Working with Doctors Nurses and other Healthcare professionals over the years has proved that this sometimes email is not the best way to pass a message on.
I have worked with Doctors that simply do not check their emails and of course some messages will be meant for a team rather than an individual – such as District Nurses or Health Visitors. Your practice might have a counsellor or a physiotherapist that only comes in once a week and they might not have access to a computer.
Some of our Reception staff was absolutely great on the desk – but not great on IT skills and a few unable to use email so all of this had to be taken into consideration when passing on messages.
Your practice will have a procedure of passing on messages – ensure that you are fully aware of their protocol on message taking.
The practice that I worked in had several ways of passing messages let me share some of these with you.
The Doctors had a MESSAGE BOOK that was kept in Reception at all times. The enabled all the doctors to read the book and take the appropriate action if needed. Ensure that your message book is set out in a clear way. Have a columns for
- the date
- the time the message was taken
- Who the message is for (Dr’s Name)
- And signature of person taking the message.
Another Surgery that I worked in had a message pad instead of a book. The message pad had carbon copies and they could tear off the message and a copy would be kept in the book. Its really how your Surgery best works.
The Doctors also had a VISIT BOOK that was kept in Reception – this had all the details of patients that had requested home visits. It is vital that you enter the correct
time the call was taken. Your visit book should have columns for
- time visit was requested
- name address and telephone number of patient
- Contact details of person requesting the visit (ie. family/carer)
- Date of birth of patient (age can be imporant ie elderly/baby)
- Brief details of why the patient needs a
- Signature of person taking the visit.
Receptionists and Admin staff had a RECEPTIONIST MESSAGE FOLDER – general messages to all of the Reception team were put in this book. Everyone had to sign and
date it when they had read it – it was their responsibility to read it every day. Memo’s from various departments were also added to this folder.
All Reception and Admin staff had their own individual staff in trays – any individual message would be placed in their tray for them to read at the beginning of their shift.
All other Healthcare professionals within the Practice all had in trays and messages would be left here and it was their responsibility to ensure that the messages were collected on a regular basis. Some of the various departments had message books like the Doctors and Receptionists – but these books were kept in their tray at all times.
Here are some important tips on how you should take a message.
Every time you take a message over the telephone it is important that you take the following information:
ALWAYS put who the message if for
ALWAYS date and time the message
ALWAYS write the message clearly – someone else has to read it.
ALWAYS get a contact name and telephone number if appropriate
ALWAYS sign your name at the end of the message.
With all messages if you think that the message is urgent always ensure that you pass it onto someone for immediate attention. Do not leave a urgent message in a book or a tray.
Often you may take a message on a Monday and the person the message is meant for is not in for a few days – or could even be on holiday – without a date or time they have no way of knowing when the message was taken.
A message could be used in a court of law. It would be classed as evidence. It would be proof that correct procedure was carried out – if the time, or date of the message is not included your Practice would not be able to relay on this evidence.
It is important to sign the message – if the person who the message is for has a question then they know exactly who to speak to rather than having to speak to several members of staff get before getting the right person.
Try not to put message on “stick it” pad as often they can get attached to another piece of correspondence and often turn up in completely the wrong place and often days or weeks later.
ALWAYS take a contact telephone or extension number from the person leaving the message in case they need to be contacted – never take it for granted that the person the
message is for will have that number. You might even have reason to phone the
person back yourself for some reason.
And it is very important to store you message books or diaries away when they are full – your practice could need this information years after the entry if needed in a court of law.