December 1997

Pediatric Residents' Telephone Triage ExperienceRelevant to General Pediatric Practice?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(12):1254-1257. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170490080014

Objectives:  To describe a pediatric resident telephone triage system in a tertiary hospital and to determine its relevance to telephone experience in general pediatric practice.

Design:  An analysis of 514 telephone calls from parents of continuity clinic patients made to pediatric residents. The evaluation included: chief complaint, disposition of call, age of patient, and level of training of the resident answering the call. A comparison was made with published information about a private-practice telephone triage system.

Setting:  Pediatric continuity clinic, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta.

Patients:  Children registered in the pediatric resident continuity clinic at the Medical College of Georgia.

Results:  The 13 most frequent reasons for calling were some of the most common problems seen in pediatric practice. The disposition of calls was as follows: 272 (53%) were given telephone advice alone, 119 (23%) were offered an appointment for the next day, and 123 (24%) were advised to come to the emergency department immediately. Disposition did not vary with residency level. Both chief complaints and disposition of calls were similar to those reported in a private-practice nurse triage system.

Conclusions:  Answering telephone calls in a residency telephone triage system, when combined with a curriculum that includes next-day monitoring, feedback from a preceptor, and seminar discussions focused on telephone management situations, is a valuable training experience and is relevant for residents going into private pediatric practice.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151:1254-1257