Stay Out of Phone Triage Crossfire

When people call their doctors, they usually know what they want: an appointment, to speak with the nurse, to renew a prescription, etc. But sometimes patients aren’t so clear, and the person at the front desk has to judge how to handle the situation. Here are some tips on how to handle these calls successfully.

Follow Guidelines

Always follow your practice’s guidelines. If you don’t have clear policies, discuss how you should handle these calls with your office manager.

Don’t Give Advice

The patient may ask your opinion, but you should never make a decision regarding whether a patient should -- or shouldn’t -- be seen.

For example, if a mother asks, "Do you think I should bring my child in?" you should say, "If you feel that the child needs medical attention, I can schedule an appointment, or I can take a message for the doctor or nurse and they can determine if the child needs to be seen."

This technique also works for adults.

But remember: Although you think you’ve seen it a thousand times, never diagnose a patient’s condition. That’s the job of the physician or nurse. And never turn patients away when they indicate that they might need medical attention.

Have questions? I’m here to help.

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