Telephone triage nurses take phone calls around Australia and triage them based on predesigned, set algorithms, which are designed to determine the severity of the caller’s complaint. They are able to direct the caller to the appropriate emergency facility or non-emergency facility, including local GPs, radiology departments, community nursing, and many other allied health care workers.
Another role of the telephone triage nurse is to help monitor the condition of a patient who has recently returned home after surgery or some form of medical treatment. For example, if a patient has returned home after having orthopaedic (bone) surgery and elderly placing him or her at a high risk of secondary health complications, the triage telephone nurse may contact that patient and ensure that he or she are not deteriorating. Furthermore, if the patient’s condition is worsening, the triage nurse may organise the appropriate interventions, even if this means the patient needs to go back to hospital by Ambulance.
Because telephone triage nurses can’t physically see their patients, they need to have excellent verbal communication skills to ensure that they can correctly determine the severity of their illness or injury.