Max Rady College of Medicine

Term: Canadian Triage & Acuity Scale (CTAS) - Emergency Department

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Glossary Definition

Last Updated: 2008-06-17


A five-level system used in an emergency department (ED) or urgent care (UC) facility to assess patients according to the urgency of their condition. CTAS allocates patients into one of five categories based on their urgency of need (Beveridge et al., 1998):

  • Resuscitation (Level I) - patients who have conditions that are a threat to their life or to a limb, and who require immediate aggressive interventions — e.g., patients who are non–responsive, who have absent or unstable vital signs, who are experiencing severe respiratory distress, etc.;

  • Emergent (Level II) - patients who have conditions that are a potential threat to their life, limb or function, and who require rapid medical interventions or delegated acts - e.g., patients experiencing seizures or with head trauma, continuous visceral or sudden sharp chest pains, vomiting of blood, severe dyspnea, etc.;

  • Urgent (Level III) - patients who have conditions that could potentially progress to a serious problem requiring immediate interventions — e.g., patients with a head injury who are alert, those with moderate dyspnea or who are experiencing intense pain associated with minor problems, etc.;

  • Less Urgent (Level IV) - patients who have conditions that are related to their age, distress, or who require reassurance — e.g., patients with minor fractures, sprains or contusions, earaches, chronic back pain, etc.; OR

  • Non-Urgent (Level V) - patients who have minor acute conditions or chronic conditions that are stable — e.g., patients with minor lacerations not requiring closure, those with mild abdominal pain, patients with psychiatric symptoms causing minor problems or who are frustrated with a lack of alternate services.

Related concepts 

Related terms 


  • Beveridge R, Clarke B, Janes L, Savage N, Thompson J, Dodd G, Murray M, Jordan CN, Warren D, Vadeboncoeur A. Implementation Guidelines for The Canadian Emergency Department Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS). 1998. [Report] (View)
  • Doupe M, Kozyrskyj A, Soodeen R, Derksen S, Burchill C, Huq S. An Initial Analysis of Emergency Departments and Urgent Care in Winnipeg. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, 2008. [Report] [Summary] [Additional Materials] (View)

Term used in 

  • Doupe M, Chateau D, Derksen S, Sarkar J, Lobato de Faria R, Strome T, Soodeen R-A, McCulloch S, Dahl M. Factors Affecting Emergency Department Waiting Room Times in Winnipeg. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, 2017. [Report] [Summary] [Additional Materials] (View)

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