Doctors run a serious liability risk when treating patients over the phone. “Errors in telephone communication can result in outcomes ranging from inconvenience and anxiety to serious compromises in patient safety.”

email

Comments are moderated before they are published. Please read the comment policy.

  • Anonymous

    My approach to patients’ telephone
    calls is to 1.Listen 2. Be kind, gracious and respectful 3. And tell them to go to the ER.

  • Anonymous

    Will you be meeting them there? Or will you be passing on the liability to an over-extended system?

  • Anonymous

    “Will you be meeting them there?”

    Doubtful. I haven’t seen that for a long time. I don’t really blame the primary doc. It is just frustrating because the patient will already pissed off by their co-pay and the 4 hour wait alongside cursing drunks and other coughing and puking patients. Then when they finally get to see me at 0200 I will not have access to their office medical record, latest EKG, or be able to peer into a crystal ball to know what “little white pill” they say they take. So the patients experience will be bad before it even started and if there is a bad outcome I will be left holding the bag. I really must be psycho to do this night after night.

  • Anonymous

    “Will you be meeting them there?”

    Of course not. These ED docs are very good and very competent. If a patient calls me at 2 AM for management of their medical problem, I just won’t do it. It has to be serious enough to warrant waking me up, although I know that that’s not always the case. It is too risky to treat them over the phone. (That’s why these ED docs make the big bucks.)

  • Anonymous

    I like the brief final comment about only 6% of residencies training residents in “telephone medicine”.

    Just what exactly is “telephone medicine”?

    Residents spend enough time on the phone. The point of the article should be that telephone medicine often leads to miscommunication and incomplete or erroneous care and that it should be avoided, not cultivated.

  • Anonymous

    I think “telephone medicine” means
    practicing medicine by using the telephone. It means triaging patients, diagnosing their problems and prescribing medications using the telephone.
    Trial lawyers would like this included in the curriculum in the residency programs.

  • kateykakes

    I understand what Anonymous 4:49 is saying – somewhat.

    My doc isn’t big on treating over the phone, but then again, I don’t usually call him for any sort of treatment via telephone unless it’s my asthma.

    I’ve had it all my life and know when I need to go to my primary’s office, go the ER or make a phone call to my physician for Prednisone. (and I don’t the take the athma lightly).

    And Anonymous 4:49, if I do have to go to the ER, I’m one of the most patient patience you’d ever encounter. Honest, we don’t all whine.

  • Anonymous

    How am I going to evaluate a patient who calls at 3AM complaining of abdominal pain and vomiting ? He wants “something for pain and something to stop vomiting”. Hmm…
    Or one who feels dizzy and nauseated ?
    The truth is, I may get an idea about what’s going on but would I take the chance of missing something bad ? No way ! If I miss a serious problem, the patient won’t excuse me just because I wanted to help him to avoid a visit to ER. Nor would his lawyer.

  • kateykakes

    No edit button, eh? Oh well, overlook the spelling error…

  • Anonymous

    kateykakes–

    I know there are many very very patient and grateful people in the ER. Some people actually enjoy it, meet their other half naked room mate and exchange phone numbers. It is the most happening place in the city at 330am. I try to find pleasure and amusement in it all.

  • Anonymous

    Meeting patients in the E.R. is a relic of an earlier time; it really doesn’t reflect the complexity of present-day care. The primary physician may not even be the appropriate person to manage the acute problem if the patient is admitted, and probably shouldn’t be at the E.R. at all unless first consulted by the ED staff attending.

  • Anonymous

    O often have to grab the phone away from overzealous secretaries trying to give medical advice over the phone. All I know is, the sleazeball lawyers will never nab me for giving telephone advice. All I say is “We can’t give advice over the phone, you’re welcome to come to the ER. Then the phoner usually gets pissed off, states “THAT’S RIDICULOUS!” And then I let them know they can thank the lawyers for no phone advice for simple medicalproblems.

Most Popular