What to do when taking a call about a patient on the ward…

Who, what and where are they?

What’s the patient’s name, hospital number and which ward are they on? What is the reason that they’ve come into hospital and why is the person calling about them?

What are their obs?

This tells you whether they’re decompensating and need to be seen immediately. What’s their NEWS score, and what’s the trend? If they’ve been sat at NEWS 5 for three days and now are NEWS 4, that’s a lot less worrying than jumping from 0 to 3 in the last two hours. If they’re clearly very unwell then ask the ward to bleep your senior as well.

Are you worried about them?

Asking the caller how the patient is clinically, and whether they as a healthcare professional are concerned about the patient is a good guide as to the urgency of the situation. Trust the nurse’s instinct…

Is there a time limit?

When does this job need doing by? Can it wait for you do do a few of your other jobs first? Prescribing insulin that is going to run out in 2hrs can wait until after you’ve reviewed the ECG for the other patient that has chest pain.

What’s your name and number?

Know who you talked to and how to call them back if you need further information.

While I’m on the way…

Ask for a repeat set of obs/ECG/urine dip, while you’re headed to the ward. This will speed everything up and help you get your head clear on the way over.

 

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