Dr Dork was saddened to hear of this tale of unnecessary death in Queensland.
There have been pushes in various Australian states for such "telephone triage" services. At the very best, they are staffed by nurses. Often, by persons with little clinical background in any discipline.
This is very, very dangerous territory.
Any doctor or nurse of reasonable experience knows well that medicine is art, as well as science. That clinical judgement and acumen are acquired through experience. That, sometimes, one can tell that something is just not right at a glance, without being able to put our finger on any objective criterion on which to pinpoint our suspicion...that something is subtly awry.
Dr Dork feels uncomfortable providing telephone advice to a patient he has not seen, and cannot see. He feels this is Bad Medicine.
These "health hotlines" are about bureaucratic cost cutting. A layer of insulation to shield ambulance services and emergency departments. As Dr Crippen and others have discussed in regards to NHS Direct in the UK.
Dr Dork does not know the specifics of what actually occurred in the Queensland case. This is pending on autopsy results.
Dr Dork knows well, however, that an ill wind bodes no good.