HANDLING INCOMING CALLS
The main channel of communication between the doctor and the public is the telephone. Practically every patient makes his first contact with the doctor by telephone; further appointments are usually arranged over the telephone. Urgent cases or emergencies may be telephoned, and other doctors may call up to discuss professional matters. The medical secretary must know how to represent the doctor over the telephone and how to deal with each type of caller. Emergency Calls. In a doctor’s office an emergency call may come in at any time, and the secretary must be equal to coping with any eventuality. There may have been an accident; a patient may have had a stroke, a heart attack, or even died. The person who telephones most likely will be upset, and people who are excited often forget to give the most important information. The doctor’s secretary must know at all times where she can reach her employer when he is not in the office. She must telephone to him at once when he is wanted at a patient’s home or somewhere else outside the office. If he is out of reach, he will telephone to his office at intervals, and all important information should be kept next to the telephone so that it can be given to him without delay. Calls for Home Visits. Not all doctors visit patients in their homes. Some specialists never have any occasion to do so, others only in rare instances. The majority of physicians, however, are called to their patients, and such calls must be handled specifically. The most important thing to do, when there is a request by telephone for the doctor to visit a sick person, is to ascertain the correct name and address of the patient. If possible, the secretary should inquire about the condition for which the doctor is called. If he knows beforehand something about the case, he will be able to take along the proper instruments or medication. Professionalism in Answering
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