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Triage by the nurse prior to GP appointments

Nov. 6, 2018

Triage with the nurse prior to GP appointments

Triage is officially the process of identifying the patients in the waiting room who have the most critical medical issues to ensure they get the quickest access to medical care. Our triage service is nurse led at Medplus. We now have a triage nurse assisting the GPs to facilitate the safe passage of patients through Medplus operating most of the time.

We have always operated a triage nurse on the weekend walk in clinics to ensure, for example, that someone presenting with chest pain gets attended to more urgently than someone with a sore throat. Now we have a walk-in clinic for children every weekday, the triage nurse helps Dr Hadler in quickly assessing each child and prioritising who needs the most urgent help.

For our booked weekday appointments, our triage nurse will also review as many as they can of the patients waiting to be seen. This is not strictly triage, it is just a collaborative approach to providing the most thorough and stream lined service we can. It is rare that the nurse actually needs to change the order in which patients are seen, but they can ensure that all the relevant observations and tests are done prior to the patient being seen by their doctor. For example, if a patient is presenting with symptoms of a urine infection they can organise the patient to provide a sample and test it prior to going in to the consultation. This is immensely valuable in trying to help our GPs run to time.

The triage nurse also provides a valuable service collecting useful measurements, such as height, weight and blood pressure. In patients with respiratory issues they may do a peak flow and measure oxygen saturation. They will also update your smoking and alcohol status and see if you have any overdue tasks, such as mammograms, immunisations or smears.

So, if you get called to see the nurse before your appointment with your doctor, do not be alarmed. They not only help the doctors do part of the health check but are also able to respond quickly to more urgent problems.

The triage nurse will potentially ask you a few brief questions, trying to roughly gauge what it is your attendance is about. If it is a personal issue that you do not wish to share with them, please feel free to tell the triage nurse that you would rather just talk to the GP about it.

Please always tell the reception staff if you have any issue that is very serious, and they can ensure the nurse triages you quickly. For example, tell them about chest pain, severe shortness of breath, significant bleeding, unmanageable pain or an infectious rash.