Re injury severity descriptions like "critical condition" etc

What is the complete list of injury severity levels used by hospitals and do they use the same standard from hospital to hospital nationwide? Is “critical condition” in New York the same as “critical condition” in Maryland or does it vary?

IMHO it’s up to the admitting, or supervising doctor. I used a plethora of terms on admitting orders, including good, fair, stable, unstable, grave, critical, and pine box at bedside. (I didn’t do that last one more than once). As far as I know, there’s no standard for the med community. But perhaps some hospitalist will come along and demonstrate me to be wrong

Well, The American College of Emergency Physicians has the linked bit of info on a standardized triage scheme (NOTE: PDF file). It has five levels and has some very specific specifications on what level means what. It would seem that not too long ago levels were different all over the place (I’m not sure this level system has even been adopted but it is an attempt to get everyone on the same page).

When my father passed away recently, the hospital called me and told me that my father was in “grave” condition. Actually, he was already dead, but since I was driving to the hospital, they didn’t want me to be too upset on the ride over.

I don’t know if that is SOP in ER situations.

Durham Regional Hospital,Massachusetts General Hospital, and others make reference to American Hospital Association guidelines.

Am I right in thinking that news reports saying someone is in “critical but stable condition” are horribly misusing the language?

Not usually. Most of the time they report exactly what they’re told by hospital representatives, which can be intentionally vague so as to protect the privacy of the patient, or to spare relatives that might be hearing about the victim for the first time on TV, or because the rep may not know much about the status and is pulling out of his butt :slight_smile: .


A quick search of the SD archives brings us the following helpful Mailbag article on What does it mean when a patient is in “critical” or “serious” condition?. To wit,