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Location of Triage Nurses in the Office Setting?

QUESTION:

Currently our triage area is in the middle of our busy office where the telephone RNs can be overheard by patients who are passing by. When I have to raise my voice to accommodate patients who are hard of hearing, patients as far as the waiting room can hear my conversation. The noise level from the activities in the office is such that I need to plug my other ear to adequately hear the patients. Additionally, we are subject to constant interruptions in our phone conversations and documentation, adversely impacting the quality of both the care I render and the legal record of my call.

My office is in the process of redesign. What is currently proposed does not address the above issues. Of this, I am concerned.

What is your recommendation regarding the physical setting of telephone triage nurses when you consult? Please let me know if you have an opinion. I have searched the net and found nothing addressing this.

ANSWER:

You're right on the money. I ALWAYS recommend that nurses be placed in a private area, far enough away to be “out of sight and out of mind”. Your concerns are very valid, as you know. Besides the obvious privacy issue (should be apparent to anyone), you have the added concern of not being able to hear well yourself and thus increasing the risk of making decisions on incomplete or inaccurate information. Also, you touched on the issue of interruptions which makes me wonder if you're also multitasked… that's a huge problem and should be avoided… this is another important reason to have you in a designated, remote location.