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Studies document that average Emergency Room costs for 18-64 year olds are close to $1,100. Many of the people who go to the Emergency Room could have been treated at home. By having someone available to evaluate if a patient’s symptoms are serious or not, nurse triage can help decrease the number of people who unnecessarily visit the ER.
What are some of the typical reasons why patients call a triage nurse line and what are the usual outcomes?
Patients often call because they have a medical symptom and they need a professional to help guide them and provide assurance. The most common reasons for phone calls include:
- Fever 3 months or older
- Medication questions
- Vomiting without diarrhea
- Head injury
- Rash or redness- widespread
- Immunization reactions
While many of these symptoms do not require immediate care, about one third of the cases require a visit to the doctor within 24 to 48 hours (including cases for prescription refills), and a few of the calls require immediate care. Table 1 below shows the breakdown of the dispositions determined by the nurses for the patient callers.
As these results demonstrate, most patients who call a Triage Nurse line can be treated with home care. With a nurse triage service, providers are able to ensure that their patients are getting standardized, high quality of care with their custom orders. Providers are able to receive patient call notes and follow up on patients the next day if needed. This provides continuity of care and follow up with patient calls. Nurse triage is a cost-effective way to provide accessible healthcare for patients, while benefiting providers, and emergency rooms.
What to read next: Care News: Summer 2015