Telehealth Ontario: Is it doing more harm than good?

by Hans on 2007/01/17

A while back, I wrote about my experience using the Telehealth Ontario service. In my particular case, my experience was satisfactory.

As I understand things, Telehealth Ontario is meant to be a service that “can help you decide whether to care for yourself, make an appointment with your doctor, go to a clinic, contact a community service or go to a hospital emergency room”. Basically, the service is meant to advise people on whether they should wait to see their physician or go to the local emergency department (ED/ER). I think the rationale is to decrease the number of inappropriate visits to the ED/ER and (hopefully) decrease costs.

So far so good, right? Since I posted my experience, I’ve received several comments on the service both in support of and against the service (see the comments section at the bottom of the post). I’ve been mostly non-judgmental about the service so far, but a recent comment has made me wonder. “Dazed” shares his recent experience:

Disastrous.

We have a 6 week old daughter. Last night she was crying in a higher pitch than normal, and had not urinated in about 6 hours. My wife asked me to call telehealth for the first time. The “nurse” who answered started with questions about my daughter who essentially stopped crying about a minute into the call. She asked a question, I would give an answer and she would ask again. It became pretty apparent to myself my daughter was ok as she really didn’t have any symptoms. However the nurse kept asking similar questions. She then asked how often my daughter was feeding and I replied every hour or two. The nurse then about 5 times said every few minutes is too much. She wouldn’t listen to me. Eventually I grew frustrated and basically let her answer her own questions. Eventually she came to the conclusion my daughter was dehydrated. (Even after I had explained she had fed normally and had a dr. checkup 3 days previous and my daughter had been putting on weight very well). The nurse came back and said that I needed to get her to a hospital. I was a bit exhausted of her and frankly my daughter seemed ok just a bit cranky. To get off the call I finally said I would take her to an emergency centre.

This is where it gets bad. The phone rang about 3 minutes later, my wife answered and the nurse asked if we were taking my daughter to the hospital. We had spoken after I got off the phone, and we felt she was ok but would watch her. My wife said no to the nurse. The nurse immediately started asking about the welfare of the child, and why we were not going if I had said I was going to emergency. This went on for about 5 minutes when my wife, again to get off the call said we would visit a hospital.

My daughter calmed down, had a wet diaper and a stool movement and fell asleep.

2 hours later at 12:30 in the morning we get a call from CHILD SERVICES stating they had been contacted from Telehealth nurses and were fearful for my daughters safety. That we needed to report to an emergency room immediately and have a hospital official contact Child services that we had indeed arrived. We argued slightly but really just wanted this nightmare to go away. We asked for the nurses names and headed to the emergency room. Upon arrival we explained ourselves to the triage nurse who upon examing our daughter said this is a waste of time, that our daughter was fine, she said we seem like nice people and she called the Child services number. At first nobody answered. We had to wait 30 minutes (In the emergency room of a large Toronto hospital with a 6 week old infant-germs apparently had not entered the telehealth’s nurses thoughts) for a child care rep to call back. The triage nurse said “what is telehealth doing, this child does not need to be here.” The child services basically said the nurse at telehealth said the baby was in danger. The triage nurse said we were free to go, that if we wanted to we could see a doctor but it wasn’t necessary. By this time feeling we were awful parents, we stayed for 2 hours waiting to see a doctor just to be sure. By this time we scared to take off my daughter diaper, just to “prove” she had now urinated, nothing seemed wrong. The doctor finally arrived, we explained our evening. He laughed and said telehealth and child services do this alot. He inspectect my daughter for 30 seconds, my daughter urinated on the examination table. The doctor appologized for us having to come in and said my daughter was fine.

So it ends. No today child services calls and say that they have to come with a nurse to inspect our home and give our daughter an examination. They said they can only come during working hours. Now I need to miss work. They have to have someone inspect my home. I am sure this is recorded by either health canada or the provincial government. I believe our family doctor needs to be contacted.

Obviously I have contacted an attorney, and have been advised to have someone in the house with us when the inspection takes place.

Could anyone help me in the sense that has anyone else gone through something like this. It is humiliating. If anything we are new parents, likely overly cautious, phoned telehealth for information and an opinion. Because of a 5 minute telephone call, poorly asked questions and not listening to answers, it has turned into a weeklong and now possibly litigious affair.

I will NEVER consider calling again. And by the way most nurses and doctors in emergency centres I have spoken with today, Telehealth is a massive burden on emergency rooms, doing the exact opposite of what it was attended for.

Do I have legal recourse?

All I can say is “wow”. I don’t know what exactly happened, but this recount sounds quite crazy. What exactly is Telehealth Ontario’s boundaries, responsibilities, and/or expectations? From the few accounts I’ve read, Telehealth Ontario seems to provide limited value as a service – it works for some, but may be a burden to others (like the ER docs or the family in the quotation above).

In all fairness to those who work at Telehealth Ontario, they probably don’t have the freedom to use their own judgment and determine which cases don’t need to be followed-up or not. I suspect that staff are required to follow some sort of script and aren’t allowed to deviate from the script for fear of litigation and other liabilities.

Regarding Dazed’s case, I don’t know if this incident is an exceptional case where the “system” seemingly has broken down somehow, or whether this example is Telehealth Ontario “in action”. I’m not blaming the Telehealth Ontario staff – they have guidelines to follow and are doing their job. The issue is that when we build a system with inflexible rules, there are no opportunities for common sense and good judgment to be applied.

As for specific advice for Dazed, I’m not really sure what to say. The hassles that you will most likely go through are really unfortunate. Your idea to have an attorney present is probably prudent just in case something really goes awry. If things don’t get resolved to your satisfaction, I’d probably recommend making some noise by trying to reach someone at the Telehealth Ontario offices, then contact either your local politician (both Provincial and Federal), and perhaps even contacting a reporter to see if they can help in some fashion – if not for yourself, then to prevent this type of incident from happening again. Other than that, I really don’t know what else to suggest.

To close this post, I’m not passing judgment on the telehealth service. I believe that the concept of a “free, confidential telephone service you can call to get health advice or general health information from a Registered Nurse” is an excellent one. My experience as an evaluator has taught me that much of the challenges lie in the implementation of the idea. Another item that is somewhat concerning would be the complains and comments from health care providers. Something needs to be done to address these concerns to make the service better. My question still remains: is Telehealth Ontario doing more harm than good? If we don’t know the answer, then maybe we need to find out.

Popularity: 80% [?]

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonesy July 17, 2010 at 5:15 pm

There are legislated requirements which dictate health care providers report suspected cases of potential child abuse (the definition of which includes neglect and failure to provide essential care as parents) to the appropriate authorities so it can be followed up on – whether the nurse is on the phone or in the hospital. This obligation extends far beyond a simple script a nurse may be reading – it’s a professional requirement. While very sad and unfortunate in this situation based on its telling – several lives have been improved as a result of nurses advocating for those unable to do so for themselves. While it’s a very difficult situation, it’s an even sadder commentary that such legislation has to exist at all.

bill August 26, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Telehealth is useless.

No one in my family has ever gotten an “opinion” from them.

They only cover their As*.

Always tell you to go to the hospital.

Why call them??

Bill

michelle October 6, 2010 at 11:56 am

all i wanted to know is why my ankle feels like it sprained itself the nurse told me that it was either gout (jeneraly big toe in 45+ year old males) out of 100 people with it less then 10 will be female and to top it off i’m 21 far cry from middle age. then another call to another nurse says that i have septic arthritis again 21 not likely my doctor doesnt even think this *were running tests*

R December 8, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Hello there,

I am so sorry to hear of Dazed’s horrible experience with Telehealth, I can certainly believe the trouble he went through. I wish I could offer some useful legal resources, unfortunately I don’t know of any (you offered some good ideas, by the way). I can only hope that everything turns out alright for him in the end and he never has anything like this happen again.

My own experience with Telehealth is not very positive, either.

While I do believe the idea is a good one, and that this service is capable of doing SO much, unfortunately as of today, their service is less than satisfactory, in my opinion.

I am terminally ill, have multi-organ failure along with a variety of other health problems. My parents help care for me as I am unable to care for myself, and on occasion, they have contacted Telehealth to ask questions about some of the issues I deal with or medications I am on when I am not able to provide them with enough information, as well, I have also called a few times in the past (although this was a long time ago, back when I was still able to speak properly. I am no longer able to speak properly as my lungs are failing, and this has caused me great difficulty with speaking).

I’ve never been one to go to the hospital, unless I absolutely -need- to, as I don’t like wasting anyone’s time and worry that I will be taking up space in a hospital that someone else needs much more than I do. I’ve also spent far too much time in hospitals throughout my life (at various points having lived there for years), which also makes me reluctant to go back when I don’t feel I need to. I’ll hold off going to the hospital for as long as possible, however, if things end up getting really serious, I’ll reluctantly end up going.

Whenever I, or my parents, have called Telehealth, it always ends in the same way. We are told to rush to the hospital’s emergency department IMMEDIATELY or risk my death, regardless of why we called or what’s going on.

First of all, we’ve never called Telehealth for emergencies or to ask if we need to see a doctor/go to the hospital, we only have ever called to ask general questions about medications and so on. I’m medically trained, having studied medicine most of my life, however am no longer able to work because of my health. I’m able to tell if there is an emergency or not, or if my life is in immediate danger. My parents also trust my judgement and will not force me to go to the hospital if I don’t wish to go, as I’ve already been forced to go in the past (not by my parents, however), and it’s never ended well. I would never call Telehealth if I were in immediate danger, or if I felt like I should be going to the hospital -these issues I don’t need any help making decisions about (For the most part, anything health-related I usually don’t need any advice on, however the odd time I may have a question about a topic that is out of the particular medical fields I studied and these are the reasons Telehealth has been called).

Recently, my father had called Telehealth regarding a medication I’ve been put on that is relatively new, one that many doctors and pharmacists are not very knowledgeable of and that I have limited knowledge of (more than my doctor who prescribed it and the pharmacist who filled the ‘script, however). He felt we may be lucky and connect with someone who had some knowledge about this medication. On Telehealth’s website, they say that you can call them to ask about medications, so it seemed to be an alright reason for him to call.

When we got a hold of one of the nurses, she started into the usual set of questions they ask at the beginning of the phone calls (and this is where my problem usually begins with them). Due to my numerous health issues, many of my answers to those questions end up being “yes.” (Do you have trouble breathing or shortness of breath? Do you have a blue-ish tinge to your lips? Have you passed out today? Are you having difficulty speaking? Are you having heart troubles? Do you have chest pain? And etc.) Of course, during this time, either my father or I will try to tell them that this is all “normal” daily things for me and these are things I’ve been dealing with for years, however they never seem to listen and consider all of this to mean I am having an emergency and need to rush to the hospital, as I’m in grave danger….*sighs* Yes, I’m dying, most of my organs are failing and my family and I already KNOW this. But this isn’t the reason we called.

No matter what we tell them or how many times we try to explain I am terminally ill and have many health issues, which is why we are answering “yes” to so many of the questions asked, they NEVER listen. We’ve been hung up on twice by angry nurses who got upset because we kept refusing to call 911 or go to the hospital, as well, we’ve also had nurses start calling an ambulance to come and get me even when I refused to go to the hospital. This last time my father called, one nurse tried to convince him to wait until the next time I passed out (I pass out 15-20 times a day, sometimes more, so this is a common occurrence for me), then take me to the hospital against my will (thankfully, he refused). The remaining times either my father or I have called, we’ve had to lie to them and promise to rush me to the hospital, just in order to get off the phone and stop them from calling an ambulance against our will. It’s bloody ridiculous. All I wanted was a simple answer to a simple question (one I still haven’t got, by the way).

We are extremely frustrated by Telehealth and their lack of listening skills. I feel this service could do a lot of good, if only they would LISTEN to their callers and stop flooding the ER with a pile of patients who don’t need to be there (thus causing problems for those who actually need to be there and for the hospital staff who’s hands are already full with caring for people who actually need to be there), and threatening them if they refuse to go!

I found your article today while searching online to see if there was anywhere to offer a suggestion or comment regarding Telehealth, actually. I’m sorry to hear of other’s troubles with this service. I -am- glad that some find it useful and can actually get some help out of the nurses there (No offense to any who may read this), however, this doesn’t excuse the treatment that others are receiving.

Well done post!

v January 5, 2011 at 8:51 pm

I just called telehealth its was my 1st time calling, there was a 45 min waiting time. I might as well just got the emergency room. …. waste of my time.

joe February 5, 2011 at 11:22 am

Well, i have an issue with a couple of teeth. after approaching several dentists all wanting cash and finding out i am layed off won’t accept a payment plan.I get it , i realize it is a cash business.
My e.i is been lowered to 840 right now, rent is 700 …need i say more.
The thing is i cant take the constant pain, headaches, twitches in my eye and side of my face anymore. and metallic taste contsantly in my mouth.
I thought i could go to the hospital, …they don’t help.. the receptionist finally after some convincing that it is at the point i may have to take the bull by the horns and remove the teeth myself, finally after saying no less than 3 times there was no place she could tell me to go… said try telehealth or 416 410 6337 apparently it is a hotline to the emergency dental people who as yet have failed to return my call to the answering machine.
So the answering machine did let me know that i would be expected to pay in full for any services they provide….
does anyone know of a place i can get some help in say the west side of the g.t.a with the dental issues i am enduring?
I live in mississauga

kaRN March 9, 2011 at 7:03 am

Hi Joe!

Ex Telehealth RN here ready to be of service lol!! I searched for Community Health Centres in Mississauga that offer dental services and found none. If you can get to Toronto, the Queen West Community Health centre at Queen and Bathurst offers discounted dental services covered by various social service providers depending on your situation. Here’s their link http://www.ctchc.com/site_qw/programs.html.

I’m really sorry to hear about the runaround dazed got when calling about his new baby. I’m shocked actually because my supervisors there would not allow me to contact Childrens aid for a child whose babysitter discovered head to toe bruising when she attempted to bathe him. I sent her to her local ER and shortly after we received a call from the charge RN at the hospital wondering if we had contacted Childrens Aid yet. We hadn’t but had to rush after the fact to do so. I am required by law to report my suspicions of a child at risk. I am not required to ask permission to do so from a supervisor and yet at Telehealth I was. One of the many reasons I don’t work there any longer. In your case, a newborn can dehydrate quickly with fatal results. The RN you spoke to can’t see your baby or observe a sunken fontanel, parched lips, tearless cry or poor skin turgor. Sorry you had to go to an ER and Childrens Aid was contacted but be advised, your call was recorded so either you have support in your lawsuit, or Telehealth has proof that they responded appropriately to your tone of voice and level of stress and babys condition.
Yes there is a script from the start of the call to the end. Yes we must ask if you are calling on behalf of someone who is having chest pains, bleeding profusely or having serious problems breathing because these can be potentially rapidly life threatening. It’s one thing to live in Toronto, or the GTA and have a hospital 10 minutes away and quite another to be calling from 60km NE of Timmins where you have limited healthcare options and might very well appreciate the telehealth RN securing you EMS and getting you to an ER STAT. The entire province is much bigger than Toronto, a fact lost on most people in southern Ontario yourselves included. :)
Do you have any idea how many perverts call Telehealth each day to talk about their erections, to ask what you’re wearing or because they can call free from payphones and are lonely? Do you know how many mentally ill people who call and keep you on the line for 30 minutes or longer to advise you that they know they’re been monitored by some government agency or are receiving auditory hallucinations that must be shared with an RN? Any idea how many calls we get from suicidal folks or people afraid they may have contracted SARS because they drove on the highway past Scarborough? MANY!!! Do you know how many people call in dire need with 10/10 pain who insist it’s not that bad once they’ve been advised to get help immediately? There aren’t enough RN’s in Ontario to do the job and far too many Ontarians willing to abuse the service. That’s why you wait 45 minutes at times.
If you don’t want to be directed to an ER, then don’t play up your symptoms to a point it would be irresponsible for the RN at the other end of the phone to tell you to wait until the morning, or weekend is over. Once you’re connected with the RN, we aren’t going anywhere. You can be honest and will get honest reliable advise if you do.
R- I’m so sorry to hear your case is terminal. As a person with medical training though, you should know how the system works. If shortness of breath is normalcy for you then an honest answer to the question of do you have new or worsening SOB would be no. If advised to go to an ER your response could be no I have a DNR and my MD has my symptoms under control, I am concerned about getting information only for X, Y or Z. You can also be anonymous and advise the RN you need to speak with a pharmacist and you’ll be connected.
I hear what you’re all saying and can empathize…believe me. Please try and empathize with the fact that listening works two ways. Many callers don’t listen either or explain their situations so poorly it prompts the RN to triage several body systems before a caller can identify what it is they’re calling about. We’re Nurses not mind reading psychics and we are liable for the advise we give.
I don’t care if you as an adult take my advise or not. I do care if it appears a childs life may be in danger and their caregiver is willing to let them suffer however. Many abusive parents call looking for home remedies for bruising or to find out how you can differentiate between a broken bone and a sprain in a 1 year old. How do you differentiate???? Get to an ER right now!!!! Rant over :)

Susan March 14, 2011 at 3:05 am

How interesting that such an old post has so many recent comments! Obviously other people like me looking up telehealth reviews…
I just got off the phone with them as I am suffering what I am pretty sure is a gallbladder attack. It’s finally easing up after 3 1/2 hours but I wanted to ask them if I should go to the ER. The nice fellow who answered the phone advised me that it was a two hour wait for a nurse to get back to me if I wanted a call back. I said if I was still in pain by then I would be going to the ER anyway and didn’t need a call back.

Just as an aside, the only other time I called telehealth was about 3 or 4 years ago, when I had my first gallbladder attack but had no idea what it was. The nurse I spoke to had no idea/suggestion of what the problem might be – basically saying to suck it up. Yet when I went online the next day to look up my symptoms, it was very easy to find what was going on. Not sure why the nurse couldn’t give me some idea of what it was.

I can empathize about what happened to dazed and R. – it really feels like they are just asking preset questions and not listening to the answers. But then along came kaRN with a wonderful perspective of what it’s like to be on the other side of that phone. Just stay in or visit any hospital to see how overworked nurses are. Yes there are some really bitchy ones – I know a lot of bitchy people in many fields. Should you be above having a bad day just because you constantly deal with others when they are probably not at their best? I won’t even try to answer that.
Sorry for the rant, but it has taken my mind off the pain which has finally eased up and now I can hopefully get some sleep!

justRN March 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm

kaRN – I couldn’t have said it better myself !
I am also a former telehealth RN – soon to return to this fantastic oportunity to help people make health choices. As with hospitals – you always get consumers who wander in for colds and bruises, bogging down the ER’s with ridiculous complaints that could be solved using either common sense or a visit to the drug store. And then there’s the drama seekers who upplay their symptoms for whatever reasons. that it leaves the RN liable. Only being able to HEAR what the caller states, and not having eyes to assess the situation – puts the nurse in serious liability AND the caller at a potentially serious medical consequence.
The service is like any other in medical field – not perfect. Wouldn’t it be better to save one life a week, a month …. than to not provide the service and lose many more to their own ignorance.
While I was there – we routinely received updates on callers who followed up after advice was given to them, yes many went to ER, some went to their Dr’s …. as a result – the advice given to them literally saved their life, their child’s life, or their teenage friend who OD’s on drugs , or an unsuspecting adult in the process of having a stoke or heart attack.
Do we need this service – HELL YES!

Donna April 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I just got off the phone with telehealth Ontario. I’ve called a few times previously with questions about my children. I called today to see if I should see a dr about a bad cough I got while traveling. The rn I spoke to was lovely. She said that I should see a dr in the next 3 days. No er required. She also gave me some great info on what I can do in the meantime to relieve some of the symptoms. Personally I believe that telehealth provides an amazing service, with caring staff and good advice. I have been on the other end as well where they have told me to take my child to the er just to be “on the safe side” and have had the dr tell me that it was a wasted visit. It happens folks! When it takes me 2 weeks to get an appointment with my gp I appreciate the fact that there is a place I can call with trained staff to help me evaluate my personal situation. To the 2 RNs who have worked with telehealth, I thank you. I can well imagine that it is not an easy job! :) to the others, they can only go off what we tell them and make educated guesses as they can’t physically see us. I’ll use this service again if needed for sure.

Michelle May 12, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Hello,
I just wanted to say I called Telehealth last week after having some bad reactions to a antibiotic. I’ve had bad reactions before and I know when they are mild and when I need to go to ER. She asked me so many questions it actually made my sytmptoms WORSE sitting on the phone repeating myself 20 times for every stupid question..I just wanted to know if I can stop taking the antibiotic after 5 days when it was prescribed for 7 because I was having some shortness of breath..she told me I have to go to the hospital NOW and I can die NOW and where do I live and blah blah blah..I was light headed and I gave her my address but then I realized she didn’t have any clue what I was talking about or what antibiotic or any good advice..so I said I’ll go to ER after work just to shut her up…I didn’t feel any better getting off that call and my side effects stopped and I stopped taking the anti-biotic the next day and saw my doctor a few days later and she said it’s fine to stop them after 5 days because I had side effects…that’s ALL I WANTED to know! She could have saved me 1 hour plus on the phone by just saying that..but nooooooooooo she ran through mindless questions which I kept answering less than 5 out of 10 for each and I was still dying if I didn’t go to ER in her opinion..whatever…NEVER AGAIN…
Maybe it was just her, maybe others are better, but I am not taking my chances and waste my time again by calling!!!

stephanie September 9, 2011 at 11:32 pm

I have called telehealth a few times for my son. I came across this article tonight trying to google the number. I give them good reviews.
Last year my son woke up coughing in the middle of the night, he couldn’t stop coughing. I called telehealth to see what could help, not thinking too much of just coughing.
As the nurse came on the phone my son started gasping “I can’t breathe” than he went very quiet and his eyes started to flutter.
The nurse overhearing what was going on calmly told me she had already called an ambulance and that they were on their way. She stayed on the phone with me keeping me calm as I started to cry.
The police, firemen AND ambulance showed up. They rushed my son to the hospital and he was ok after a few days,
That nurse saved my sons life,
So I do think telehealth is worth while.

RN tg November 25, 2011 at 11:33 pm

I am a former Telehealth nurse. Terrible employers but great service. Yes you must use their protocol questions and follow them, but as far as what happened to the man with the baby that led to ED then CAS, that nurse must have been new. You can use your critical thinking despite what people think. Yes we follow protocols but that nurse was way off base and I would never call the service again. The amount of patients that called that I helped with either babies with fevers or deciding to go to ED is unbelievable. With approx 5000 calls a day, we only sent 5% of callers to ED and 2% 911…so the stats are real and very low. No one ever knows how many we didnt send. And as far as people expecting a diagnosis, nurses dont diagnose, only MDs. We cannot tell you what we think you have or what you have..so once you realize this, your expectations wont be so high.We rule out symptoms that would send you to ED based on protocols. Anyway, like I said terrible abusive employers, but great service…

vs1629 January 21, 2012 at 9:04 am

i use telehealth quite regularly and find it is absolutely superb. i find their questioning thorough but never repetitive. i wonder if there was a lack of clarity in the answers provided? also, you mentioned you were frustrated and if that anger came through on the phone? that, coupled with not taking the child to er after you said you would may have triggered alarm bells. i think the rn did the right thing, despite the inconvenience. what worries me more is the supervisor that wouldn’t let the rn report the case of child abuse.

No common sense January 10, 2013 at 9:09 pm

I came across this site and support Tele Health! Well said RN TG, Just, KA….I fully support nurses!
Nurses DON’T diagnose only doctors can so don’t call the service expecting an answer to “what do you think it is?”
Yes….many questions will be asked because the nurse can’t SEE you and can’t SMELL and can’t TOUCH and can’t HEAR what’s going on.
Don’t make your symptoms worse then what they are if you don’t want to go to ER!
So….you say the many questions asked are irrelevant? How would you know that with no medical training? Just because you look something up on Google dosen’t make you a medical professional. If you think you know the answers why call then?
So you have to wait to speak with a nurse….it’s a free service so stop complaining! These nurses are over worked and don’t need your attitude when they speak with you. What would you rather….waiting 45 mins for a nurse to call you back or waiting 8 -10 hours in ER…welcome to our health care system…it is what it is!!
They DON’T send all callers to ED or call 911….you need to get accurate statistics before you speak….fair is only fair!
Nurses can not TELL you to stop taking a prescribed medication. Only a doctor can give this direction. May I say….if your that concerned use your common sense!
If you have a symptom that required an ER visit in the past and you have this same symptom again. Why do you need someone to tell you to go to ER??
Your calling to speak with a nurse about a medication few doctors and pharmacists know about, and you want the nurse to know about it? Really?
People need to use some common sense. It seems that common sense is in short supply these days!

TLCraig January 12, 2013 at 2:09 am

No common sense, you took the words right out of my head!!! you know what they say about common sense, it isnt so common…:)

TLCraig January 12, 2013 at 2:21 am

BTW, I love that the former Telehealth employees were so diplomatic, it is a testament to the quality of healthcare in my opinion, I cant think of a tougher job than being a nurse, let alone, as you so eloquently said, trying to triage over a phone!!

Betty January 17, 2013 at 7:27 am

Telehealth is useless. They always default to ass-coverage: “Just to be on the safe side, go see your doctor.” When you live in a rural area, your options are limited. My doctor is away on extended vacations a lot and especially during the holiday season, when everyone in my family seems to get sick. So I end up going to the emergency room, where I get a ton of attitude for coming in with a non-emergency. What am I supposed to do?

Brianna February 13, 2013 at 9:26 pm

This was a very enlightening post, thank you. We called today and the nurse freaked out because we’d given our daughter tylenol more than two days in a row. They recommended that we go to the doctors within 24-hours, regardless of if her symptoms cleared up. We rushed out because the nurse made us feel like we needed to go urgently, our doctor said our daughter has a minor cold and that we can keep giving her tylenol as long as she was uncomfortable..

Sam June 22, 2013 at 12:04 am

Telehealth was brought into being so that people could call them and not clog up the waiting rooms in hospitals and walk in clinics. I have called them a few times and they ALWAYS say, “You need to see a doctor in the next 24 hours.” So I’m back to clogging up a waiting room. The last time I called, I had taken a fall down some steps and my hip and hand were hurting. Not too bad, “On a scale of 1 to 10 where the pain is, 1 for mild and 10 is for extreme..” The pain was nowhere close to even a five, I told her it was like a 2. She said, “You should see a doctor in the next 24 hours.” I should also say that I started this call with, “I don’t have a doctor.” I guess she missed that part. I’m not saying that the nurses on that line are all dingbats, but I have NEVER got one who was bright enough to remember ANYTHING I have ever said. I don’t say that Telehealth is bad, I just mean that it’s not good.

Dany June 30, 2013 at 10:16 am

Called today to ask how long does it take for pain to subside in a ear infection. Waited 30 minutes and left a message. Garbage. What a waste of money and time.

Richard July 23, 2013 at 8:36 pm

I have never found tele-health of any use. each and every time I have ever called they told me to go to emerg immediately. Each and every time, I end up waiting 2 – 6 hours and released withing ~ 30sec of being seen.

the last time I thought I would give tele-helath a last chance by asking a very simple question. i gave them my symptoms and asked very simply what could it possibly be no more no less, as I had already decided that it can wait til I see my family doctor 2 days hence. They told me that I need to get to emerg .ASAP. and refused to answer my questions.

They are a complete waste of tax payers $$

Ldot August 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Almost every one of the “complainers” are asking to be diagnosed; not sure how many more times it has to be stated but nurses do NOT diagnose so stop expecting this to happen! Like some one else has stated, this is our health care system, and yes there are waiting times across the board so why are we acting all surprised and pissed off at the world? This is nothing new! If you don’t like or appreciate the care that is extended to you, then you are free to choose a different place to live!

Ldot August 25, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Almost every one of the “complainers” are asking to be diagnosed; not sure how many more times it has to be stated but nurses do NOT diagnose so stop expecting this to happen! Like some one else has stated, this is our health care system, and yes there are waiting times across the board so why are we acting all surprised and pissed off at the world? This is nothing new! If you don’t like or appreciate the care that is extended to you, then you are free to choose a different place to live!

Also, if you are not aware of what it takes to keep a nursing license then please don’t comment; it only displays your complete ignorance!

Graham Miles April 14, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Because we are human and humans run the system then the system, of course, is not perfect; but it’s not bad either. I have used their services on several occasions and, yes, they have asked me some questions, I don’t know why, but I gave them their answers. Remember one thing, these Telehealth nurses are professionals. They have guidelines to follow. When you question why a nurse asks certain questions then why did you call them in the first place. The advice they have given me I have always followed and I’m 67 years of age and still alive in part thanks to these (Godsend) nurses. If you are going to go to the trouble of questioning professionals then you shouldn’t even call them in the first place, in this persons case, just go straight to the hospital. When child care services are called in, not by you, they are only doing their job. Although this country has many shortcomings they still have one of the best medical support systems in the world. This opinion is not at all meant to be rudely put, not by any stretch of the imagination and I am truly sorry if that is what you feel. Give Telehealth a chance. If you think they are wrong then do what they suggest ’cause after all, they just might be right and you could save a life. OH!!! They have already saved my life twice and for that I feel that all nurses and doctors are the greatest VIP’s in the world.

Susan April 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I do agree with many of the comments above… the fault does not lie with the nurses. Telehealth is a 3rd party company, owned by Sykes which (look it up) is one of the biggest telemarketing companies in the world. As well, known to treat their employees like trash. They will not work out of Quebec due to the stronger labor laws which protects the workers. Why would an American company really care about our Canadian health care system???? They are to happy to take our dollars across the border when the contract is awarded to them. With health care dollars being so closely scrutinnized, I am not sure why we still have this program which will advise you to go to the ED. Next time you do follow up and visit your local emergency department, take the time to ask the doc there what his thoughts are regarding Telehealth. A total, embarrassing, useless waste of taxpayers’ dollars will probably be your answer. Smarten up Ontario!

lol July 14, 2014 at 11:22 am

this service is a joke and a waste of money .. call there and they tell u to see a doctor .. they never know whats wrong othe rthan “go see a doctor” .. well DUH!! i dont need a service that will tell me that .. WASTE OF GOVERNMENT TAXES!!!!

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RN August 28, 2014 at 5:58 pm

I’ve read these emails about Telehealth. The pros and cons. Well, all I can say is you can’t please everyone. I’ve worked for this company and they “try” to treat their nurses well but it’s a dismal failure. They have ads on Workopolis looking for RN’s about every 3 mths. Why don’t they get a clue of what their real problem is. As far as these callers, you can’t get a medical diagnosis from a nurse so stop asking “what could it be?” We only can give you advice on treating your PRESENT symptoms. Not what you felt like a week ago. And yes, there is a lot of abuse of this service. Callers who want to masturbate in your ear, callers who are mentally ill and need to take their meds, callers who are lonely and just want to “talk”. The list goes on. Please understand the nurses there are top-rated and only want to help you in anyway that they can. REMEMBER, they can’t see you or your burn, cut, scrape or bite. AND they have to follow company protocols or they will get fired.

Rosa September 29, 2014 at 10:49 am

I called tele-health today cause I recently found out I was pregnant and needed to know if I can take iron pills during pregnancy. I’m profoundly anemic, so it’s important for me to take iron if I can. The nurse’s response was that I have to go see my doctor. I said to her that the reason I called them is because it was a simple question that I believe any qualified nurse would be able to answer this question for me. She started accusing me of using derogatory comments against her. I ended up hanging up on her because I cannot take any stress during my pregnancy, I lost my last baby at birth and cannot be subjected to unnecessary stress. I just wish that a qualified nurse was able to answer my simple question, since I have not been able to find a new doctor yet.

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