"telephone triage"

Specialties Emergency


Hey, looking for some info here.

What is your ER policy for "telephone triage" or advice? I always tell nurses to tell them what they are comfortable with but always tell them that they may come to the ER for evaluation if they wish. What are you guys telling people?


370 Posts

This is something I am curious about too. I am now working for an answering service and I deal with triage nurses too since I work 2nd shift. Please reply. Thanks.


258 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Nursing Advanced Practice.

We are not allowed to give any advice out other than, " Call your doctor or come to the ED". Unfortunately most doctors, when called, say, "Go to the ED".


159 Posts

we tell them to call the adult or pediatric nurse line! :-)

My personal thought is if you can call to see how long the wait is you dont need to go to e.r.


163 Posts

My personal thought is if you can call to see how long the wait is you dont need to go to e.r.

Amen to that. That really drives me crazy. We don't give any medical advice over the phone. Fortunately our hospital system has a nurse line. We always refer them to that number.

I think that there is a thread specifically for this topic. Maybe you could see if they can help:confused:

ernurse728, LPN

130 Posts

We are absolutely not allowed to give any advice over the phone. We are to direct them to the nurse help line. It is a big legal issue...lawsuit waiting to happen. Although last week I did tell someone how to get a gauze bandage off their finger without pulling open the wound.


475 Posts

I have found that some people that call the ED really just want to talk to someone, they don't really want advice or to come to ED. I feel sorry for them, but I rarely have time to chitchat with them. We never give advice, we tell them if they have an emergency to hang up and call 911, or we are happy to see them in ED.

The people that ask for a nurse and then want to know how long they have to wait do get on my nerves.


230 Posts

Well, usually the kind of questions I get are like, is it ok to use calamine lotion for chicken pox, my kid has a fever of 100.3 should I give tylenol or motrin, you know clinic kinds of calls. I always tell them that they always have the choice of coming to the ER or make an appointment with their doc. But I will answer something that if I was at home and a friend or sister etc called and had a question about--If I am sure about the answer. We did however, have a call not too long ago have someone call and say their dog was barking and growling at them--what should they do? The nurse that answered with a very straight face said--I am a people nurse, not a doggie nurse--maybe you should call the vet.

I have never had anyone call to see how long a wait would be. That would tick me off too.

Does anybody keep a log at work of phone calls that come in??

ernurse728, LPN

130 Posts

People call us all the time and say...." I am at hospital X's ED and they say that it is going to be a 4 hr wait...can you see me faster?" Or they are people that call and tell us that they want to come at a certain and want to be seen...they actually think that they can make an appointment to come to the ER!!!


230 Posts

OMG I would say that maybe they could make an appointment at the CLINIC!!!!!!!!

We get the ones all of the time that say that they don't want to wait at the clinic, that they thought that they could get in faster through the ER. (for clinic complaints) What they forget is, our ER doc is working in the clinic----and if it is for a clinic condition (totally non emergent and could, be treated at home with some common sense usually) they will finish what they are doing first.

We had a repeat offender the other day---one that was a no show for her appointment the day before her ER visit---it was too hot to go to the doctor the day before----she got mad at me when I asked her--very nicely by the way---and it's an emergency today because?? She didn't get to see the doctor as fast as she thought she should have---then had the nerve to ask if she could just go to the clinic and see him because she was tired of waiting. (I think he took his sweet time just to prove a point) Needless to say--I think she will keep her appointment next time.


754 Posts

Specializes in Everything but psych!.

Our ER gives out not advice. The patient is advised to call their physician. Legally, without guidelines to follow, or a MD to be responsible, telling them anything could be contrived to be practicing without a license????


370 Posts

I think you have the right idea Audrey, because that is my gut feeling as well. I have caught myself stating to the parent that I am neither a nurse or doctor. But I will have one call them very shortly.

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