Are hospital admissions reduced by Acute Medicine consultant telephone triage of medical referrals?
Acute Med. 2015;14(1):10-3
Authors: Westall C, Spackman R, Vasanth C, Trepte N
The NHS in England is facing well-documented pressures related to increasing acute hospital admissions at a time when the acute medical bed-base is shrinking, doctors working patterns are increasingly fragmented and many acute hospital trusts are operating a financial deficit. Novel strategies are required to reduce pressure on the acute medical take. We conducted a prospective cohort study to assess the impact of acute medicine consultant triage of referrals to the acute medical take on the number of acute hospital admissions as compared to a historical control cohort. The introduction of an acute medicine consultant telephone triage service was associated with a 21% reduction in acute medical admissions during whole the study period. True admission avoidance was achieved for 28.5% of referrals triaged by an acute medicine consultant. The greatest benefit was seen for consultant-triage of GP referrals; 43% of all GP referrals resulted in a decision not to admit and in 25% the referral was avoided by giving advice alone. Consultant telephone triage of referrals to the acute medical take substantially reduces the number of acute medical admissions as compared to triage by a trained band 6 or higher nurse coordinator. Our service is cost effective and can be job-planned using 6 full-time equivalent acute medicine consultants. The telephone triage service also provides additional benefits to admission numbers beyond its hours of operation and the general management of the acute medical take.
PMID: 25745644 [PubMed - in process]