Children's Hospital Colorado

Telephone Triage in Pediatric Primary Care (S2:E8)

Pediatric telephone protocols are simply structured interviews that help a nurse or other medical provider make a decision about whether a patient needs to be seen immediately. This decision is referred to as telephone triage, and it's an important part of the patient phone call process.

Pediatricians offer telephone care far more often than other specialists. Kids get sick often, and many parents are afraid of making mistakes and may not know where to turn when their child shows symptoms of potential illness.

Listen to a pediatric medical expert explore pediatric telephone protocols in primary care

Bart Schmitt, MD, is a telehealth pioneer and the father of pediatric telephone triage protocols. Most famously, he wrote the first book on pediatric telephone triage, and the 16th edition was most recently released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Dr. Schmitt is also the Medical Director of both General Pediatric Consultations and the Pediatric Call Center at Children's Hospital Colorado.

On today's episode of Charting Pediatrics, Dr. Schmitt lends his expertise to a discussion about the role of telephone triage in the pediatrician's office.

In this episode, our expert explains:

  • Telephone triage and pediatric telephone protocols for nurses
  • The benefits and importance of having protocols for call centers and pediatric practices
  • Why pediatricians offer telephone care and telehealth more often than other specialists
  • Why electronic protocols are better than a book
  • The importance of second-level physician triage for after-hours calls from parents
  • How pediatric telephone triage protocols and resources like the symptom checker support patient-centered care

Telephone triage resources for pediatric providers

Dr. Schmitt refers to several resources during the podcast episode, and providers can use them to educate families and improve their own patient phone call procedures. To start, providers can review Pediatric Telephone Protocols, Dr. Schmitt's comprehensive book on telephone triage.

Additionally, the ChildrensMD Symptom Checker Mobile App was specifically designed for worried parents. It provides care guidelines that help parents make smart decisions, like when to call their doctor, when to manage care on their own and when to make an appointment. Parents can also use the Children’s Colorado ParentSmart Healthline™ service, which offers 24/7 access to registered nurses.