I always block my ID when calling patients. If I don’t, I start getting direct calls from patients. Those kinds of patient calls are the minority, to be sure, but they are exhausting and disruptive and are sure to occur when I am on the toilet having a rather tough poo (lots of noisy grunting) or whilst in the midst of mind blowing sex (also lots of noisy grunting) or something else equally awkward like changing a high lightbulb while precariously balanced on a ladder (probably also involving lots of noisy grunting).

One consequence of this is that patients don’t answer my calls. I have to leave a message and wait for them to call me back, sometimes an hour later. It happens almost 50% of the time when patients call the answering service, even though they are expecting me to return their call. It occurs 90% of the time when I have to call unsolicited, like when the lab alerts me that a patient’s potassium is 2.3 or their platelet count is 10 or maybe the hemoglobin level is 4.5 (these are very bad things by the way) and I need for them to go to the emergency room.

OR, the patients have the feature activated on their phone that will not allow unidentified callers through. That requires that I call the answering service back, then they have to call the patient and walk them through how to deactivate the phone feature, then call me to let me know I can try the call again. Sometimes that still does not work because they are unable to deactivate the feature and I have to call the answering service to call the patient back for an alternate number. 

What I really, really want is a way to ID myself when calling without showing my phone number. “Dr. Victo, phone number unavailable.” Or some such thing. 

Maybe that already exists and I am just a dork when it comes to telecommunications… 


82 thoughts on “Shaded

  1. If they can do it with email (pls do not reply to this email as it goes to an unmanned server etc kind of thing), I am sure they can do it with a phone. Can you get phones that just make calls, but not receive them? I’ve heard you can get them to receive but not make. Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, I’m a dork who spent centuries working in telecom, and yes, this service should be available from your provider. Some will charge a small monthly fee; some will not. Some will even allow you to customize what is shown in place of the number; others will use a generic “withheld by request” message or some such. Hope that helps!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do it, too! So I really cannot blame them. Part of the problem is that there are so many junk calls out there that the likelihood of getting some real or important is really slim to none. That is the bigger problem.


  3. Spoof your phone number and make it look like you’re calling from your practice number (whatever they’d call to schedule an appointment). Odds are, they have that number saved and will answer it. I know that costs, but not sure how much.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Perhaps I’m a dork too. I need that feature in my profession too. Sometimes parents won’t pick up if they see the school is calling. That sometimes means their kid is in trouble. If I call from my cell I have to use *67, but again, they don’t always pick up. #thestruggle #lotsofgrunting Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. we instruct our clinicians to use a cheapy phone for business so when the call patients they aren’t using their personal phones. They can answer them or not if a patient calls after hours. We have issues with Doc trying to call also after hours and the phone game is not fun for anyone.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m no computer geek and have no idea. I can only think of using one phone for calling patients and another for your own personal calls.

    I think the majority of people don’t answer unidentified numbers- I know that I don’t unless I’m expecting An important call related to doctor visits.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I’m still stuck on that first paragraph. When I was a tot and got that red scrunchy face, Mom would ask if I needed to go grunts and guide me to my potty chair.

    As for your phone problems, I was going to make the same suggestion Jane did about getting a second phone to use specifically for those calls. I agree you should not be allowing patients access to your private phone number, they’d drive you crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We have the same problem with our number and my husband trying to reach his parents. We had to install a call blocker during the last two years because of the number of political calls we were getting from all over the country, and I know a couple of times we blocked a patient’s call by mistake when we didn’t recognize the number. All has been quiet for the last couple of weeks so maybe we can remove the blocker.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t even keep an answering machine on my land line anymore. Anyone who needs to leave me a message has my cell number. Politics was really out of hand this go around, wasn’t it? So glad that is over. For now. Sorta.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I understand this conundrum completely. My office changed numbers and now it doesn’t say BUSINESS CALLING instead it says LOCATION, INDIANA. Lame. As a distrusting person myself, I often invite clients to call the number they have for the office and ask for me. A lot of people will not discuss their personal information without making sure I am who I say I am and I don’t blame them.
    I should think you could get it to say whatever you like. I’d contact the provider. But then, I sit here wondering…Can they click and call back anyway? Is *67 the only way to not share the number? I’m curious. If you find things out, let us know.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m almost certain I’ve had a couple of docs who have called me with no number showing. I’m going by memory, which is scary, but I think so. I’ll review past calls and see if I can find one and let you know if I do.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Must be frustrating. I’d leave a message that said, ” this is your doctor. It’s unfortunate you didn’t pick up the phone because it was in your best interests to hear what I had to say. I need to go and have some mind blowing sex now . If you’re still alive in he morning, you can give me a call.”
    But that’s just me..:)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The noisy grunt is indeed a rather versatile vocal utterance.

    That’s a great idea for a phone service. I’d be interested in that, too, since I live overseas and any calls home are marked “number unavailable.”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love this post…..since I worked in the medical field…I did phone calling for some of the MD’s….could thing I have thick skin as the patients are always so let down that the message from the MD was through someone other than their MD…such a let down for them….its nice to be in the circle and understand the need to let the MD have a life….talking with friends and family and educating them to the fact that the doctor has thousands of patients and not just them is fun to do, as when the lightbulb moment happens that they realize that is always fun to see….I am sure there is someone out there working on a phone that can deliver your name without the number….sounds like a good app to make….kat

    Liked by 1 person

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