The Role of Nurse Triage in Providing Emotional and Life Support to Callers
When most people think about what a triage nurse does, they think of worried mothers calling about their babies, elderly patients calling about ailments, and middle-aged adults worried if they are having a heart attack or just gas. Often times, one overlooks the role of triage nurses in providing emotion and life support to patient callers.
At TriageLogic, our nurses get a wide variety of calls. We receive calls from patients with depression, patients calling because of sexual abuse, patients calling because they are lonely, cases of child abuse, anxiety, and panic. Read patient cases that our nurses have handled that go beyond physical symptoms.
One evening, a TriageLogic nurse, Nancy¹, received a call from Heather¹, a patient who was experiencing lower abdominal pain and irregular spotting but did not want to go to the hospital. After our nurse asked a few questions about her symptoms, Heather opened up and disclosed that the reason she did not want to go to the ED was because she had been raped by her abusive boyfriend and was terrified of him.
Once this was disclosed, Nancy immediately used the Sexual Assault protocol to help the patient. The nurse told the patient to try to gather as much evidence of the assault and go to the ED, preferably with a friend or family member for support. Heather was still afraid to go to the hospital and did not want to report the incident out of fear of what the boyfriend would do. Nancy encouraged her to go to the ED for evaluation and her safety. Heather finally agreed to go to her clinic. Once the call was completed, Nancy reported the incident to the local police department and to Heather’s provider for follow up.
TriageLogic nurse Joan¹ received a call from Bill¹ Sunday night. He stated that he was depressed and anxious and wanted to commit suicide. Joan comforted him and began to follow the Suicide Concerns protocol.
After asking all of the corresponding questions, giving Bill the suggested care advice, and just listening to him he seemed to have ended the call feeling better. However, Joan took it a step further and alerted the local police department and his provider. Bill ended up calling three more times that night to talk with Joan. When his provider reached out to him the following day, Bill said that Joan had helped him and that he no longer was having suicidal thoughts.
Frustrated and Exhausted Parent
Sara¹ called her children’s pediatrician’s after-hours nurse triage service on a Friday night. Her husband was on deployment, her 2-year-old daughter had a low fever, her newborn had not been sleeping, and Sara was having trouble breastfeeding. Triage nurse Grace¹ received the call from the exhausted and frustrated mother. Sara was at her wit’s end dealing with two children on her own with very little sleep. Sara did not know what to do and was all alone. Grace was able to give her encouragement and advice about each of her issues.
Sometimes people just need someone to talk to and a triage nurse is there to be empathetic and objective, and they always have the callers’ safety in mind. Many times there are underlying issues that are not related to the reason why the patient is calling, for instance, they may have had a bad day at work, be financially strapped, are taking care of a dying family member, or getting a divorce. Anxiety and lack of sleep can make any situation feel unmanageable, but after calling a triage nurse, callers will have an action plan and feel more in control. A triage nurse will always be there to listen to patients and provide the compassionate advice that the callers are seeking.
If you need a compassionate triage nurse service for your patients, please contact us today.
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 Names and other identifying information have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.