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Telephone advice in the accident and emergency department: a survey of current practice.
  1. R J Evans,
  2. M McCabe,
  3. H Allen,
  4. T Rainer,
  5. P W Richmond
  1. Department of Emergency Medicine, Cardiff Royal Infirmary.


    The objective of this study was to assess the standard of advice given by telephone by accident and emergency (A&E) departments following patients' enquiries. In order to do this patient enquiries were simulated and a telephone questionnaire was carried out. The study was carried out in 18 major and 16 minor A&E departments in Wales. Results achieved were that overall, correct telephone advice was given to 72 of 97 simulated patients (74%). Sixty calls were dealt with by the nursing staff (62%) who gave correct advice on 41 (68%) occasions. No A&E department had a formal policy nor provided staff training for handling patients' enquiries by telephone. It is concluded that A&E departments should train designated members of staff, preferably the triage nurse, who would formally deal with telephone enquiries requiring medical advice. There should be formal documentation of the enquiry and advice proffered as part of a departmental policy.

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