Nova Scotia 811 Telephone Triage and Lower Acuity Pediatric Emergency Department Visits at the IWK Health Centre
Young, Michael J.
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Growth in Emergency Department (ED) demand is occurring across the developed world, with increases in both urgent and non-urgent ED visits. Telephone triage systems allow a caller to speak with a healthcare professional for advice and guidance on whether a problem requires an ED visit, primary care, or self-care at home. Telephone triage may have the potential to decrease non-urgent pediatric ED visits by directing callers with lower acuity problems to a non-ED care option. On July 29, 2009 the Nova Scotia (NS) Department of Health and Wellness introduced a provincial telephone triage system, Nova Scotia 811. In the year following implementation, 811 was associated with a modest decrease of 3.6% in the proportion of lower acuity visits at the IWK tertiary care pediatric ED. This study is the first to assess the impact of a regional telephone triage system on pediatric ED visits in a publicly funded healthcare system.