Telephone triage nurse using listening skills when triaging a patient

Tips for Successful Patient Calls

Patient triage via phone is often challenging – nurses have limited information and no visual clues to guide their decision making. Instead, they rely on years of education, hands-on-training, and instinct. Here are some phone triage tips to help ensure the best possible outcome for patients.

  • Objectivity – At times, it can be easy to mistake a caller’s gender or age. Avoid stereotyping by confirming the patent’s age, gender, and medical history before starting the triage process.
  • Listening Skills – Begin the call by listening carefully to all of the patient’s symptoms and history. Abdominal pain in an older female may signal a urinary tract infection while the same symptom in a younger female could indicate a pregnancy. Exploring all of the patient’s concerns can help to prevent overlooking a serious symptom and making the wrong disposition. Read this for more strategies on effective listening.
  • Professional Judgment – Some patients may call a nurse triage line for reinforcement of their own diagnosis. While a parent may be concerned that his or her child has chickenpox, it is the triage nurse’s role to perform a full assessment to make a correct decision. Critical thinking skills are essential for any triage nurse to adequately and safely make assessments and decisions.
  • De-escalation Skills – Callers who are anxious or distraught may be more difficult to triage. Be sure to take their symptoms seriously and present a reassuring demeanor. Triage nurses must have a balance between judgment and protocol practice. See also this article on managing difficult patients or situations.
  • Proper Use of Nurse Triage ProtocolsTriage protocols are thoroughly and carefully designed to help triage nurses make the best possible disposition, but if not properly used patients may be put at risk. Comprehensive and on-going continuing education helps to ensure high-quality patient care. Triage nurses must have a balance between judgment and protocol practice.

TriageLogic can help with all of your patient triage needs including, proprietary call center software for daytime office calls, after-hours call management with Nurse Triage On Call and wearable technology remote patient monitoring. To discuss your needs and how TriageLogic can help, please call (855) 734-4463.

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