Phone Technique—Managing Urgencies and Emergencies

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Consultant360 or HMP Global, their employees, and affiliates. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, association, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.


Neil Baum, MD

Clinical Associate Professor of Urology, Tulane Medical School, New Orleans, LA

Author, Marketing Your Clinical Practice-Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, Jones Bartlett Publishers

Today, patients are more assertive and more demanding. It is not uncommon for patients to call the office and ask to be seen the same day. An inexperienced receptionist might feel compelled to tell these patients to come in and say that they will be worked into the schedule. This reaction will frequently wreak havoc with your schedule as scheduled patients will not be seen in a timely fashion. Also, work-ins add stress to your staff.
The best way to avoid this situation of adding patients into the schedule is to post a list of conditions in your practice that you deem as emergencies and who must be seen immediately.
Figure 1 is the list posted in front of the receptionist.
As a result of posting this list, true emergencies are added to the schedule. These patients are often told to come at the end of the morning, during the lunch hour, or at the end of the day. Now the schedule is maintained and most of the patients are seen in a timely fashion and the staff is able to leave at the day without incurring costly overtime expenses.
Figure 1. Patients who need to be seen as soon as possible
Urinary retention—unable to urinate
Blood in the urine/hematuria
Fever, chills, flank pain in the low back
Back pain that moves the groin or testicle
Testicle pain, swelling or discomfort
Priapism/persistent painful erection
Burning, urgency, frequency of urination, urinary tract infections