I've found this definition of triage:

"The process of sorting people based on their need for immediate medical treatment as compared to their chance of benefiting from such care."

So I can understand that triaging an issue list means giving some priorities to the items and sorting the list.

But what does triaging an issue mean? Giving it a low priority or the other way round? I suppose the former but haven't found any evidence for it. All the dictionaries I've found deal with triaging some set only.

  • "The action of sorting according to quality."
    – Amir978
    Mar 6 '12 at 23:33

"Triage" also has this meaning:

the determination of priorities for action in an emergency.

So, if I was to triage an issue, I would just determine how important this issue was, whether it is an urgent matter, then on the basis of my diagnosis, put this issue on a list, based on its importance.

  • Agreed. Triage only makes sense in the context of multiple things to analyze. So triaging an item is simply part of triaging a list of items. No different than sorting a list vs sorting an item.
    – Kevin
    Oct 1 '16 at 17:13

I should've thought that "triaging an issue" has a similar meaning to "triaging an issue list", but just applying to one item in said list. So, "giving priority to this item and putting it somewhere in a list of triaged items."

  • But is the priority of an "triaged item" higher or lower than the priority of an "accepted item"?
    – maaartinus
    Aug 20 '11 at 8:40
  • 6
    Describing something as a "triaged item" isn't saying anything about what priority it has been given; merely that it has been given a priority.
    – Jez
    Aug 20 '11 at 8:44

If we look at its actual definition, it would just mean "ranking an issue in importance or priority." This isn't a common phrase, but I think that it most likely means "giving it a lower priority."

In a normal medical situation, the medical staff available will give their full attention to every case.

In a triage situation, though, this stops being the case: some cases are ranked as having less priority than others. Effectively, some cases remain at the "normal" level (full attention), and some are ranked at lower than that. Invoking triage necessarily means deciding that some issues are less important than others.

I could see this phrase being used in a formal situation to politely say "This isn't that important. Let's ignore it for now."


The original meaning of triage is to divide patiens in three categories:

  • Won't make it.
  • Will make it with immediate treatment.
  • Will make it if treated eventually.

Interpreted into other types of issues, it would be the process of translating the needs of the issue to the type of action it requires.

Triaging an issue doesn't mean to give it a high priorit or a low priority, it simply means to give it a priority.

  • 2
    One minor niggle: "patients" (sorry, but this is a language site ;D) Oh, and it's not "immediate" but "time- and resources-consuming". Triaging is not about "do we treat them, and when" but "is treating this patient the best use of our (limited) resources" (triage is usually associated with mass emergency situations, in case someone is wondering... on a lesser level, it's sometimes necessary in an ER) Aug 20 '11 at 22:36

As well as being used in medical contexts, the word "triage" is also used in software development, where it refers to putting a planned feature/upgrade on the back-burner to focus time and attention on developing more important features.


As Triaging in a medical situation is measured against a set of potential outcomes, so should the use of Triage in other situations be used against a predefined set of likely outcomes or influence.For example, in a business setting a list of offered marketing approaches could be subjected to triage to select the most cost effective approach, the most perceived highest effective solution, or one that the company believes it could put in place the fastest.

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