I am going to deviate from my standard fare to something a bit selfish today. I need to get this off of my chest as I have wrapped up the worst call week I have had in over five years.
Tips for calling your physician’s answering service after hours:
1. Don’t cuss out the on call doctor if you don’t get what you want. That just goes in your chart. We are trying to help. Really. But if you have not been seen at the office for over two years, I am not going to call in an antibiotic over the phone for you for the head congestion that just started this morning. I just can’t. I am sorry.
2. Make sure this is something that cannot wait until the office is open. Case in point, a call I received on Christmas morning to let me know about hip pain. The fellow had had it for over a year, worse the past three weeks. After he went through the entire treatment course for the whole past year he told me that he didn’t really want me to do anything about it per se. He just wanted to have me send a message to his doctor so he could get in to the clinic to see her when they opened back up next week. He was a super nice man and I felt bad for him. But we were opening presents…
3. Stay by your phone until we call you back. Please. I beg you. That unidentified call about ten minutes later? That’s me. Sometimes it is longer if I am driving and have to find wifi or if I have to pry screaming kids off of me and lock myself in the bathroom. 90% of the time when I call back, no one answers and I have to leave a message or try to call back again in a few minutes. What you may not know is that I have to pull out my computer, boot it up, log onto the electronic health record, and scan your chart so I know your medical problems, medications, kidney function, allergies, etc. I don’t mind doing that at all. It makes it easier and safer to take care of you. But when I am having a meal with my family, it sure is nice to be able to wrap it up and close it down with one phone call instead of dragging it out into a 20-30 minute ordeal.
4. We call back with our number blocked because we are calling from our personal cell phones and believe it or not, many people abuse it when they have that info. Please don’t take it personally. Also, please take the unidentified number call block off your phone, at least temporarily. It is terribly frustrating to call, get rebuffed by some bitchy sounding automated woman, and then have to call the answering service and have them call you back and then patch you through to me.
5. Do NOT call me for severe chest pain and/or shortness of breath. Go to the ER. Now. No, I said go right now. Shush it. Just go.
Happy Monday, folks! I am so glad to be able to turn my phone to silent again that I feel almost giddy. Woohoo!!!