Registered nurses providing telenursing triage and advice services record information on the medication related calls they handle. However the quality and consistency of these data were rarely examined. Our aim was to examine medication related calls made to the healthdirect advice service in November 2014, to assess their basic characteristics and how the data entry format influenced information collected and data consistency. Registered nurses selected the patient question type from a range of categories, and entered the medications involved in a free text field. Medication names were manually extracted from the free text fields. We also compared the selected patient question type with the free text description of the call, in order to gauge data consistency. Results showed that nurses provided patients with advice on medication-related queries in a timely matter (the median call duration of 9 minutes). From 1835 calls, we were able to identify and classify 2156 medications into 384 generic names. However, in 204 cases (11.2% of calls) no medication name was entered. A further 308 (15.0%) of the medication names entered were not identifiable. When we compared the selected patient question with the free text description of calls, we found that these were consistent in 63.27% of cases. Telenursing and triage advice services provide a valuable resource to the public with quick and easily accessible advice. To support nurses provide quality services and record accurate information about the queries, appropriate data entry format and design would be beneficial.
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