Beware the dangers of telephone triage

 Maureen Duff, a research fellow at the University of Stirling, said telephone triage and client assessment has become more popular with many nurses, including those in OH.

Telephone triage has been described as caring for patients with your hands behind your back wearing a blindfold, Duff said, and you must rely on your verbal and listening skills.

She told delegates that they had to be aware that telephone triage raises many legal issues, particularly those of accountability. Practitioners must always be sure to document all the information and advice given to clients over the phone as the Nursing and Midwifery Council has stated, ‘if it is not documented it is not done’.

Duff advised that when unsure of the health implications (for instance, someone with unexplained stomach pains could have a gastric condition or something more sinister), include a clause such as, “if you’re not feeling better, call me back in an hour”.

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