Telephone triage is now an important aspect of health care. Successful telephone triage programs embody these important elements:

  1. Adequate numbers of competent professional nurses, available to meet the service needs of the patient population.
  2. Professional telephone triage nurses who exhibit the following competencies:
    1. Clinical knowledge of disease assessment and strategies for effective patient education regarding disease prevention and self-care.
    2. Effective communications skills including: effective listening, counseling and crisis management.
    3. Demonstrated knowledge of institutional resources, protocols, policies/procedures and telecommunication equipment.
  3. Adherence to approved, evidence based protocols which provide a safe, consistent standard of care within the community.
  4. Precise patient encounter documentation that reflects the nursing process and includes: interventions, resources used, recommendations and expected patient outcomes.
  5. Triage focused on identifying the nature and urgency of the client's health care needs and then determining the appropriate disposition.
  6. When self-care advice is indicated, the nurse must provide the caller with appropriate education and support.
  7. Diverse populations are accommodated.
  8. The telephone triage nurse is always the patient's advocate.
  9. Telephone triage nurses are integrated into all aspects of quality improvement decision making.