A study of out-of-hours telephone advice from an A&E department

Br J Nurs. 1997 Feb;6(3):171-4. doi: 10.12968/bjon.1997.6.3.171.


A prospective analysis of telephone calls to an accident and emergency (A&E) department during weekday evenings/nights and weekends was undertaken over a 3-month period. A telephone consultation record (TCR) proforma was developed to record information about each call for advice. The volume of calls, characteristics of callers and patients, nature of presented problems, and advice given were analysed. An average of 9.3 calls were documented during each weekend 24-hour period, and 3.3 calls during each weekday evening/night. Junior nurses took 93% of calls. Advice was sought for a broad range of problems, of which only 11% were musculoskeletal conditions or injuries. Twenty-six per cent of patients were advised to attend A&E, 35% were given self-care advice, and the remainder were advised to contact or see their GP. There is considerable potential to develop a nurse-provided telephone advice service, but the need for staff training and guidelines has to be addressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Counseling / organization & administration*
  • Emergency Nursing*
  • Female
  • Hotlines / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Information Systems
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Night Care*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Prospective Studies