We tend to think of summer as a generally healthy time of year. There are more opportunities for outdoor fun and with vacations, backyard barbecues, firework shows and more to look forward to, there’s lots of fun to be had during the warm summer months. Yet, the long, hot days of summer come with their own set of health and safety concerns. An increase in outdoor time means more patient phone calls related to overheating, outdoor accidents, dehydration and bug bites to name a few. Today, we’re looking at the top summer health issues and the valuable role telephone triage nurses provide to guide patients with home care advice or other care options to keep patients healthy and prevent serious issues that lead to ER visits. Triage nurses use standardized protocols and evaluate patient caller symptoms to determine the best level of care to address those symptoms.
Common Reasons Patients Call A Nurse Triage Line:
Summer Allergies – Allergies are common as soon as spring hits and those flowers start to open up. Depending on the year, pollen can wreak havoc for some people. Allergy symptoms can get serious and can cause related problems such as asthma attacks. The triage nurse in return, educated patients about the need to follow up with their physicians and get a plan to address the allergies.
Swimmer’s Ear & Ear Infections – More time in the pool means one thing for many parents: earaches. While it may be an inevitable after-effect of pool time for your little one (and even many adults), there are some things you can do to prevent and care for earaches and infections. Triage nurses are able to give home care advice when appropriate and determine when a visit to the doctor is needed.
Bug Bites & Stings – It’s almost a summer rite of passage. More time outdoors comes with more and more bug bites, stings, and reactions to abundant levels of insects. For both adults and children, this can be a source of a lot of discomfort, from the backyard barbecue to the beach. Depending on the how bad the rash looks to the patient, many end up worrying and going to the ER. Triage nurses are able to evaluate bites and rashes, calm patient callers, and determine the best level of care.
Tetanus Shots – More outdoor play and longer days often mean a lot of fun exploring, and it’s no surprise that many incidents of injuries and lacerations are the result of adventuring in nicer weather. From rusted nails to old fencing, hazards seem to come out to play during the summer months, as well. Again, rashes and other skin lesions cause patients to worry and nurses are able to evaluate the skin and provide advice that saves both time and money.
Heat Exhaustion, Dehydration & Heat Rash – Staying hydrated is a summer must, but we also know it can be hard to drink enough, often enough. Our triage nurses often receive calls from people who feel dizzy and tired. Once we determined that the symptoms are not a sign of something more serious, the triage nurses are able to educate and provide advice to keep both adults and children hydrated.
Sunburn and Fire Related Injuries – There are a spike in calls during the summer for grilling-related injuries, including cuts, burns and even smoke inhalation injuries. Holiday weekends are often very busy for telephone triage nurses. Nurses help evaluate symptoms, provide advice to callers and prevent unnecessary overcrowding on ER.
How Triage Nurses Help
By using standardized protocols to advise patients on their symptoms and indicate the appropriate care, triage nurses decrease unnecessary ER visits during the summer months. In addition, having nurses as the first line of care encourages patients to call since patients are not always sure if they need a doctor to evaluate their symptoms. If the symptoms are serious enough to warrant it, the nurse may advise a trip to the emergency room, but in most cases our nurses are able to give home care advice and over-the-counter medication, saving the employee and company money and offering peace of mind.
When your practice provides a nurse triage service, such as TriageLogic’s Nurse Triage On Call, patients have the option to speak with a Registered Nurse regarding their symptoms anytime. Nurses are specially trained to ask specific and targeted questions to determine if the safest place for the caller is at home or the emergency room, or something in between.
TriageLogic is dedicated to supporting hospitals, clinics, and physicians with innovative telephone nurse triage products and services. We are committed to delivering quality telemedicine products to meet the needs of providers and patients as they evolve. If you are interested in finding out more about how you can provide your patients with our Nurse Triage On Call services and how trips to the emergency room can be prevented, please contact us for more information.