For Immediate Release

October 18, 2013


Canadian medical first:  London Health Sciences Centre Develops Obstetrical Triage Acuity Scale


LONDON, Ontario –London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has developed a new tool to improve patient care by better managing the triage process for expectant mothers coming into hospital. The Obstetrical Triage Acuity Scale (OTAS) was designed by hospital Obstetrical staff to assist triage nurses in efficiently and consistently determining the severity of a patient’s presenting complaints in an effort to appropriately assess and care for them.


“This scale allows us to improve patient care in three important ways,” said Dr. Rob Gratton, Chief of Obstetrics for LHSC. “First, we are able to ensure we are seeing patients based on a standardized assignment of acuity rather than in order of arrival. It also helps us to define the acuity level of our unit at any given time, which helps ensure adequate staffing and resources are in place. And finally, it allows us to measure patient flow and the length of time to care based on acuity.”

This week, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published the findings of the reliability and validity of the OTAS acuity assessment tool. OTAS is the first standardized acuity assessment tool designed specifically for pregnancy-related problems.  The OTAS research and design was undertaken by staff from LHSC’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology over a 2 1/2 year period. The triage acuity scale ranks patients by severity on a scale from one to five, with one being the most urgent priority and is used to rate issues such as pregnancy complications and labour developments.

“The development and implementation of the OTAS tool has been an incredible undertaking for the entire Obstetrical team at LHSC,” said Laurie Gould, Executive Vice President, Patient Centred Care. “In particular, the Nursing staff in the Obstetrical Care Unit has played a vital role in the tool’s success. We are excited about the benefits this tool will continue to have for our patients at LHSC and beyond, as we share it with hospitals in our region and across the country.”



About London Health Sciences Centre

London Health Sciences Centre has been at the forefront of medicine in Canada for 138 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, the Kidney Care Centre, two family medical centres, and two research institutes – Children’s Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 65 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit 



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