Telephone communication is a routine, but important, component of every healthcare practice. Everyone in your office should approach telephone communications as an opportunity to provide patients with good service and to obtain important information. A patient’s first and lasting impression of your practice is often from a telephone call.
Healthcareproviders also must be mindful of the potential liability risks associated with telephone communication. Areas of increased telephone office liability may include allegations of failure to diagnose, delay of treatment, improper treatment, failure to follow-up, and breach of confidentiality.
Absent or improper documentation of telephone contacts and messages can negatively impact the defense of amalpractice claim. Therefore, it is essential that telephone calls be documented with the same detail as an office visit.
Have policies and procedures to enhance and monitor the quality of your practice’s telephone communications with patients. All staff share in the responsibility to provide patients with courteous and efficient telephone communication.
Tips for Effective Telephone Communication
1.Train all office staff in telephone etiquette, including handling an angry or dissatisfied patient. The attitude of the person who answers the telephone will set the first impression of your office.
2. A caller should always have the option of speaking with a person.
3. Try to answer the telephone by the third ring and monitor calls that are put on hold. Allow callers to speak first, and ask forand get their permission to place them on hold.
4. If your office is equipped with an automatic call distribution system, limit the menu selections to four or five at most. The first message should always be, “If this is an emergency, dial 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.”
5. Conduct telephone conversations out of the hearing of patients to protect the caller’s privacy.
6. Obtainthe caller’s phone number and confirm identifying patient information.
7. When a return call is required, ask the caller what time he or she will be available, and give an approximate time for the return call. Then, make return calls as promised. This conveys a message to patients that you care and are respectful of their time and concerns.
8. Develop a Telephone Advice Protocol Manual for nursingand other staff authorized to give telephone advice that addresses areas such as handling routine questions and doing telephone assessments and triage. Monitor staff compliance with the protocol.
9. Instruct staff to consult a physician or other designated clinician whenever they have concerns or questions regarding their telephone assessment or advice. Respond promptly and positively when staffseek guidance.
10. Appointment books should be written in black or blue ink. Entries should never be erased or obliterated with erasure fluid. When making a change, simply mark a line through the information already entered and record the change below. Keep old appointment books and telephone logs for as long as you maintain medical records.
11. Develop a policy and procedures for handlingphoned-in lab reports that include how “panic values” are to be relayed to the physician.
12. The practitioner who orders a test should be the person who calls the patient to communicate sensitive results.
13. To reduce the chance of miscommunication when calling in a prescription or giving treatment instructions, ask the person with whom you are speaking to repeat what you said.Teléfono Comunicación
La comunicación telefónica es una rutina, pero el componente importante de toda la práctica médica. Todo el mundo en su oficina debe acercarse a las comunicaciones telefónicas como una oportunidad para proporcionar a los pacientes con un buen servicio y obtener información importante. La primera impresión y duradera de un paciente de su práctica es a...