Objective In low-resource settings, childhood mortality secondary to delays in triage and treatment remains high. This paper seeks to evaluate the impact of the novel Sick Children Require Emergency Evaluation Now (SCREEN) tool on the waiting times of critically ill children who present for care to primary healthcare clinics in Cape Town, South Africa.
Methods We used a pre/postevaluation study design to calculate the median waiting times of all children who presented to four randomly chosen clinics for 5 days before, and 5 days after, the implementation of SCREEN.
Findings The SCREEN programme resulted in statistical and clinically significant reductions in waiting times for children with critical illness to see a professional nurse (2 hours 45 min to 1 hour 12 min; p<0.001). There was also a statistically significant reduction in the proportion of children who left without being seen by a professional nurse (25.8% to 18.48%; p<0.001).
Conclusions SCREEN is a novel programme that uses readily available laypersons, trained to make a subjective assessment of children arriving at primary healthcare centres, and provides a low cost, simple methodology to prioritise children and reduce waiting times in low-resource healthcare clinics.
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