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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Donna L Cain, BSN, MSN (Bureau of Medicine and Surgery)
Description: This book provides practical information for evaluating current telephone medicine systems, easy to follow symptom-based triage algorithms, and recommendations for training the telephone staff. The first edition was published in 1982, revised in 1990 and was directed toward pediatric patients only.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide practical, useful, and accessible information to practicing clinicians and their staff. This book addresses the need to improve telephone care through an interconnected triad of telephone medicine, triage, and training. Telephone medicine accounts for a significant percentage of patient contacts in primary care. Therefore, this book can play an important role in the primary care setting. The book meets the authors objectives.
Audience: According to the author, the book is written for triage nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, medical students, pediatricians, family physicians, internists and house staff. In my opinion, this book is written more for the triage provider/nurse, the patient educator, the clinic manager, and the performance improvement coordinator. The author's biography provides credible documentation of his authority in the subject matter.
Features: The book is divided into three main sections. The first addresses the telephone system; the role of the telephone, establishing a system, the medicolegal issues, skills required, and appropriate use for patient care. The second address pediatric and adult triage. It contains excellent, easy to follow algorithms for patient concerns. The third section address training the staff and evaluation of the entire system. This section also provides suggestions for patient education of telephone medicine. The table of contents is an alphabetized listing of symptoms for children and adults that provides fast access to topics, a time-saving feature for the triage provider.
Assessment: This is a comprehensive guide to telephone medicine. It provides helpful information for starting a new, or evaluating a current telephone medicine system. It contains easy to follow triage algorithms for children and adults, a staff and patient training section, and an evaluation process. The first edition focused on the triage of pediatric patients. Most telephone medicine references emphasize patient triage and not the adminsistrative issues that are necessary for a successful system. This edition is a valuable tool for all primary care providers, support staff, and clinic managers.