December 21, 2023

The Important Role of the Triage Nurse

Primary Care
hospital triage area

When you make a phone call to your Fort HealthCare medical clinic with an acute or immediate health concern you are referred to the clinic’s triage nurse. This triage process is a critical one that outpatient medical clinics utilize. Specially trained registered nurses help to assess medical situations over the phone and determine the severity of the health concern, if an office or eCare visit is necessary, the best timing for a visit and if other services (e.g., lab testing) are necessary. The nurse will even recommend if an Emergency Room visit would be the most prudent next step. However, there may be times you may only need simple home care advise based on your response to very specific questions associated to your symptom or concerns.

Triaging is a skill that requires medical decision making, critical thinking, and expertise. Nurses are trained to evaluate in this manner while using a triage platform developed by leading physicians within the field of phone-based triage. It also helps the daily clinic flow and efficiency. As most medical appointments are booked in advance and daily schedules are already filled, deciding which patients need to be seen the same day with this limited availability takes trained oversight and decision making.  This process also eliminates unnecessary office visits when what is really needed is home care advise, lab work, a visit with a specialist or a trip to Urgent Care/Emergency Room.

Triage nurses will also initiate discussions with your provider (either physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant) if the medical situation is unfamiliar or has intricacies that require additional medical insight specific to your needs.

It is important to note that this process is intended to assist you and the clinic to determine the most preferred next step and to expedite your care. The triage nurse is expected to return your call as soon as possible within the same day (based on priority) unless the call is made at the end of the day or after hours.

“Fort HealthCare is grateful to the triage nurses who make warm and helpful connections with our patients”, states Lisa Jensen, Vice President of Nursing Services and Chief Nursing Officer.  “They possess a wealth of knowledge and experience that they draw upon daily to make the best recommendations for our patients.”

So, when you reach out to our clinics for an acute or immediate concern, know that you are in excellent hands!