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 Protocols – Triage 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.