The ability of pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) to perform triage functions for ill children in a busy pediatric outpatient service was compared to that of a group of pediatricians. One hundred thirteen children were seen separately on arrival by a PNP and by a pediatrician.
The PNPs' evaluations agreed with the pediatricians' 84% of the time. Only two significant differences were shown: PNPs were more diligent in recording patient problems, while pediatricians were better able to anticipate the need for roentgenograms and laboratory studies.
The results indicate that valuable physician time may be conserved by using the PNP to perform triage in large pediatric outpatient services.