Confidentiality: Assessing Patient Information by Using DOB (date of birth)


In today’s society with confidentiality a wide and often difficult issue we often have to be seen to minimise the use of patient information. Simply by repeating a patients name or address often breaks confidentiality. Most of the time this will not cause a problem, but there are ALWAYS the exception.

Ways that confidentiality can be broken can include:

  • Asking a patient for their name or address at the reception desk and being overheard by a 3rd party.
  • Repeating a patients name or address over the telephone and being overheard by a 3rd party.
  • Writing patient information down where a 3rd party can read it.
  • Giving patient information to a 3rd party i.e. husband/wife/mother/father/son/daughter or other family members or friends of the patient without their consent. This also includes outside agencies.

By using the patients date of birth (DOB) you are not giving away any confidential information to anyone listening to your conversation. This can be a good way of dealing with such an issue at a busy reception desk.

By entering the DOB into the computer it will identify if this patient has already been registered. By entering a name onto the computer, which has another way of spelling the name to the one already registered will not identify that this patient is already registered.

When a patient is entered onto the system twice this creates a duplicate patient – and it means that one patient will have two set of “notes” on the computer system. This could lead to serious problems because if the patient is brought up on the system by their name and accordingly to which way the name is spelt important information could be stored on the “other duplicate” set of notes. This could be blood results, letters from the hospital etc.

Duplicate patients are often created when a patient is registered at the practice before then moved away and returned to the area and wanting to re register at the practice again. If DOB was entered it would straight away identify that the patient has already been a patient and their records can be “re-opened”. If the name is entered and their original name was entered by My John David Smith and when they came to re-register and they put My John Smith this may not identify that he had been registered in the past.
This would result in them being registered again thus creating a duplicate of notes.

Below are some examples of how ONE patient could be entered into the computer system in more than one way:

  1. Carol Ann Linch          DOB 29.5.86
  2. Carol Anne Linch        DOB 29.5.86
  3. Carole Ann Linch        DOB 29.5.86
  4. Carol Anne Linch        DOB 29.5.86
  5. Carol Ann Lynch         DOB 29.5.86
  6. Carol Anne Lynch       DOB 29.5.86
  7. Carol Ann Lynch         DOB 29.5.86
  8. Carol Anne Lynch       DOB 29.5.86
  9. Carol Lynch                  DOB 29.5.86
  10. Carole Lynch                DOB 29.5.86

And so on and on…………………………

10 Ways that a patients name could be entered – BUT ONLY ONE DATE OF BIRTH

Putting in the wrong spelling will create a problem, the computer will be unable to find the patient or worse still bring up the wrong patient. Think of a surgery they could have 10,000 patients or even a hospital with thousands on their computer system – just think how many might share the same name or have similar names – but how many would share the same DOB and the same name?

By asking the patient for their DOB you can bring the patients details up straight away. If by chance there is more than one patient with the same DOB – then ask the patient to confirm their address – by asking the patient especially over the telephone you are not divulging any information – it is a bit different if they are at the front desk – so remember if you are asking them to be discreet.

Often you will have a father and son or mother and daughter with the same first name as well as their surname, this in the past has caused the wrong information to be used – for example:

  • Mr John Smith    DOB      26.5.57    (father)
  • Mr John Smith    DOB      18.8.81    (son)

Simple spelt names like Smith can be spelt differently i.e. Smyth, Smith. Green, can also be spelt as Greene, and there are many other names that can sound the same but be spelt differently.

By entered the DOB you would have brought up the correct patient.

By entering DOB when scanning will also minimise errors, in the past patient information has been scanned into the wrong patients notes.

If you do enter information onto the computer ALWAY check you have the correct spelling – please do not assume you have it right. If in doubt always ask for the DOB.

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Sending out Letters to Patients


I had a frantic phone call one Friday evening from a good friend – she was in a right panic. She had received a letter from her Surgery (not the one that I worked at) asking her to make an appointment to see the Doctor regarding her recent smear test.

She didn’t know what to do; she had in previous years had abnormal smear results and of course was now thinking the worse.

I tried my best to console her – but she had made her mind up – she convinced herself that the Doctor was calling her in to tell her she had cancer.

As you can imagine she had a very stressful and sleepless weekend.

Monday morning came and she rang the Surgery – at first she was told that there were not appointments that day – but she insisted on seeing the Doctor.

Her appointment was for 11.00 – she was at the surgery at 10.00 – she sat and waited – she was called in to see the Doctor for him to tell her that the smear had not been taken correctly and it would need to be repeated. That was it – it needed to be repeated – more than likely the nurse may  not have taken it correctly.

To say she was over the moon was an understatement. But the worry she went through that weekend was awful.

So, it got me thinking – how many other people received letters at the weekend that could cause worry and concerns – having to wait until Monday morning before speaking to a Health Care Professional? Probably quite a few I should imagine.

So, I spoke to the Partners at our next staff meeting and we all agreed that such letters that were not urgent and could cause concern to patients or their families would be posted on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, hopefully arriving before the weekend and if the patient was concerned at all they could phone or make an appointment to speak to or see a Doctor

If there was an urgent letter that needed to go out on either the Thursday or Friday and the Doctors felt it might cause some concerns one of the Doctors would phone and explain the letter was on its way and if the patient had any concerns they would try to answer their questions.

True Story

I recently spoke to a mum who young son was having various tests done at her local hospital. She received a telephone call from the consultant at 7.30 on a Friday evening asking her how her son was – he asked her if he had got any worse, he asked if he had been with any cattle she was a bit alarmed at the call. He asked her to bring him in again on the Monday for some more blood tests. She admitted that she was a bit concerned – more blood test – but put it to the back of her mind for the weekend. Her and her son had a fun packed weekend which she said was one of the best.

She went with her mum to see the Consultant on the Monday they he gave them the devastating news that her son had cancer – the consultant had known that on the Friday when he spoke to her.

This consultant had given this thought – he wanted to spare her the heartache for a few more days – he knew by telling her the news on the Friday that her world would come crashing down – he knew she was on her own at the time – he spared that until he had her face to face and could go through the options and treatment for her little boy. This is something she is eternally grateful to that Consultant for.

It’s not what we do but how we do it that can have such a big impact on people.

 

Does your Practice send out recall letters on a Friday so the patients will receive them on a Saturday?

What To Say And What Not To Say To A Grieving Person


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As a receptionist you will deal with the death of patients. It is often very sad when say a young patient dies, a teenager that had their life in front of them taken away, a parent leaving a young family behind, or the elderly patient that used to come in with cakes every week for everyone – we all have our favourite patients and their death no matter what age can often be very sad and have a big impact on many staff within the practice.

As a Practice are you the Receptionists made aware of patient that has recently died? Are you informed of such or do you just find out by chance.

It is important that you are giving such information as you often will be the first person that the grieving person will be talking to. How you handle that telephone call or face to face conversation will made a big impact on the grieving person.

For a new receptionist this could be the first time that they are faced with such an incident. At your practice do you have policies for such a delicate issue? Family members of the deceased will be coming into the surgery to pick up death certificates, and to perhaps see the doctor.

As a Receptionist how would you deal with this?

I asked new Receptionists this very question and some felt comfortable that they could approach the person and give them words of comfort. Others would often say “I would not know what to say” and “I would be afraid of saying the wrong thing so therefore would not say anything at all”

As a Receptionist you could be the first avenue of comfort to the grieving person. No longer are the excuses “I don’t know what to say” or I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing” acceptable. Some people might say “Ignorance is bliss” but when it comes to consoling the bereaved, ignorance is certainly not “bliss”

In your role as a Receptionist would you say something to the grieving person or would you not feel confident enough to say anything at all?

Often people want to say something to the grieving person but are unsure of what to say so will actually not say anything at all in fear of upsetting the person.

Remember, grieving the loss of a loved one is the worst pain that someone can endure. Be respectful and polite. Don’t discount anyone’s feelings. Even if someone puts on a brave face and looks like they are handling it well, don’t assume that the person is.

Show that you care.

Here are some suggestions at things that you could say to someone who is grieving

  • I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

Making an acknowledgement that you are aware of their loss will mean such a lot to the person. This often is the simplest and most effective thing to say. It also shows respect

  • You and your family are in my thoughts

Especially if you know other members of the family.

  • I can’t imagine how painful this must be for you

You can’t begin to know how this person is feeling, even if you have lost someone yourself in your life, everyone deals with grief and loss in different ways.

  • She/he was so nice – she/he will be missed by so many people.

If the person that has died was special to you or any of your team in any way – share that with the person – tell them how special they were, share a story if you have one like they used to bring you cakes in each week, or they always had a smile on their face when they came to the surgery. This will be a comfort to the person listening.

Here are some things that you should not say to someone who is grieving

  • Do not say – “I know how you feel”

Its simple  – you have no idea how they are feeling. Losses cannot be compared.

  • Do not say – “You’ll get through it – just be strong”

At this moment in time the one thing they do not feel is strong.

  • Do not  say – “don’t feel bad”

Of course they feel bad and it’s totally normal to do so.

  • Do not say – “I understand”

You cannot possible understand how that specific individual is handling their loss.

  • Do not say – “Time will heal all wounds”

Because for the grieving individual, imagining life without their loved one is, well, at that point unimaginable.

  • Do not tell the person how you would feel in their place

They just don’t want to hear it – or need to hear it. It’s not about you!

  • Do not say – At least they didn’t suffer (in the event of a sudden death)

It certainly didn’t make it easy on the person standing there in front of you and at that moment in time it is no comfort to them. They are still grieving their loss.

  • Do not say – He/she is in a better place

What they person would pick up from that message is – better than here with me!

The common thread in the statements above (and many more like them) is that while most may be said in an attempt to comfort, absolutely none of these statements will console anyone.

As Receptionists I am sure that you are compassionate and you do deal with the bereaved in a professional manner. But it is important that when any new Receptionist starting at your Practice has appropriate training in this very delicate matter and that they get it right.

And most important if the grieving person does not want to share, then you should respect their wishes and give them some space. You have done your best to show your respect for their loss.

Other posts in this subject

How Do You Cope With Staff Sickness


imagesCAAC8IDWThis time of year it can be very stressful working in a Surgery or Hospital environment. The flu season is upon us and Christmas approaching fast – stress levels can be high. Patients can often be more demanding as they too are stressed, little ones are poorly, no one wants to be sick for Christmas – appointments are few and far between.

Staff are going down like flies with flu and other winter bugs and on top of that people are trying to take last-minute annual leave – which of course can put enormous pressure on others in the team. Often receptionists come into work feeling poorly when they should be at home as they do not like to let their team down, but there comes a time when they just cannot get in as they are too poorly.

Being short-staffed can lead bad feelings, between the team and between the team and management – moral can get low at this time of year. How do you handle such times as your surgery?

A Surgery that I worked for had two sites – in all about 28 reception and admin staff. But on top of that we have a team of 8 bank receptionists (temporary). They all worked on a part-time basis as and when we needed them. They would cover at both sites. Some of them would be willing to do a full week when needed others preferred to keep to certain days or a certain number of hours per week – but they were all very flexible in a time of need. They were often our angels in times of need.

As a practice we only paid them for what they worked. We did also give them holiday pay depending on what they had worked. No more than paying a regular receptionist to do overtime  that perhaps she didn’t really want to do – or giving her time off in lieu which then meant when she took that time back cover would be needed for her.

But it was important for the bank staff to feel part of the team. Keeping them informed of changes within the Reception team/Practice was vital and I always ensured that any memo’s or emails that went out to the regular staff they received copies of too. They were very much part of the team and treated so.

Every single bank receptionist was included in every training programme and was invited to join in any social event that we had both in and outside of the surgery. They were always included in any receptionists meetings that we held.

In fact some of our “bank” receptionists actually worked more hours than some of our regular receptionists. It really was a system that worked extremely well.

If you think that each 28 reception/admin staff was entitled to 4 weeks holiday, plus cover needed for sickness and days needed for training it amounted to a lot of cover being needed throughout the year and because of this it didn’t put pressure on other staff to cover those times.

We would still offer extra hours to our regular receptionists but they were never under any pressure to do so if they didn’t want to. There was always plenty to go around.

I am surprised that this has not taken off in more Practices as it really did work out very well indeed especially around this time of year.

None of us wants to put pressure on staff to cover for colleagues, but of course we do because we do not have another option – but do we?

Does Your Practice have a 999 Policy


Does your Practice have a protocol on calling 999?

What is your Practice policy if a patient telephones the surgery and it is identified that an ambulance is needed?

Why do you need to have such a policy?

You owe it to your staff to have the correct procedures in place. No one likes to get something wrong – and delaying in getting an ambulance to a patient can have dire consequences.

When I was a supervisor managing a team of Receptionists we did deal with calls that were a matter of urgency – and needed an ambulance. If a Doctor (or in the Doctors absence a nurse) was in the building they would deal with the call.

But there were times that a call would come through and there would be no healthcare professional on the premises. The Receptionist had to deal with the emergency call and quickly.

A good receptionist will pick up on the urgency of a call and in a split second know that an ambulance is needed.

But what happens in your Practice?

  1. Does the Doctor/Nurse/Receptionist ask the caller to call 999 and request an ambulance?

or

2.  Does the Doctor/Nurse/Receptionist call the ambulance?

I fought for our practice to have a protocol put in place for such calls. The Doctors at first did not see a need for it.

Until we had this in place and a patient called in an emergency it might be the Doctor that would call an ambulance or  the Doctor might phone out to Reception and ask a Receptionist to call an ambulance or the Doctor might ask the caller to call 999.

If a Receptionist took the call depending on who took the call and she identified that an ambulance needed to be called she might tell the caller she would phone for an ambulance or another Receptionists might advise the caller to phone 999 them self.

But one thing for sure was that there was no procedure whereby everyone was doing the same.

DOES THE DOCTOR/NURSE/RECEPTIONIST ASK THE PATIENT TO CALL 999?

When I brought this up at a Doctors Meeting they were very keen that we as Receptionists ask the caller/patient to call 999. They felt that this would be less pressure on the surgery staff – and they felt that the ambulance control could phone and speak to the caller/patient if needed.

I disagreed – I asked what if the patient was there on their own and we asked them to phone an ambulance and then they collapsed before making the call – we as a Surgery would have thought it was being dealt with and the patient would not have made the call therefore no ambulance being despatched – leaving the patient in danger.

They suggested that if the caller was on their own then we would make the call. If the patient had someone with them then we would ask them to make the call.

Again, I disagreed – this was not fair on the Receptionists – to ascertain if the patient had someone with them at the time of call – this would take up valuable time and that person might be needed to be at the aid of the patient.

DOES THE DOCTOR/NURSE/RECEPTIONIST CALL THE AMBULANCE?

Yes, I say – every single time.

What I did learn from taking such calls is people are often in a panic – if  a caller is calling on behalf of someone else they might not necessarily have all the patients’ information at hand ie medication they might be on. The caller might be a neighbour and might know very little about the patient.

They often will give you details and THEN you ask them to call 999 and they have to give the information all over again. This delays time when the caller can be with the patient – especially if the patient needs assistance.

Or, if the patient is on their own they are often in a panic. Elderly patients have been known when they put the phone done after being asked to call 999 that they don’t “think” it is necessary and the call has not been made. They often do not like causing a fuss.

You might have a mum with a young child that needs the mother to be with them – asking her to phone for an ambulance takes her away from the child for longer.

In my experience I felt that the caller/patient was happier when we at the surgery phoned 999 on their behalf – it gave the caller time to go back to the patient – or the patient to prepare for the ambulance calling.

The Doctors felt that Ambulance control would rather the call come from the patient – so I contacted them on behalf of the practice. I explained what had been discussed at our recent meeting and ambulance control agreed that they would prefer it if the Surgery was to call in the event of an ambulance being needed.

They felt the Surgery would have all the patients’ records that they needed such as

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Telephone number
  • Medical History / Medication
  • Any other relevant information they might require.

Not all of the above might be know to a caller if they are calling on behalf of the patient.

Ambulance control felt that they could get this information quickly from a Doctor or Receptionist, get the ambulance despatch quickly and if they needed to speak to the caller/patient for further information they needed to.

Also, to make a note on the patient records that an ambulance had been called, the date and time the call was made. This could be useful for any of the healthcare professionals when dealing with the patient in the future.

To get this protocol right was important – and for me I had an example of just how this can fail if there is not policy in place

“True Story”

I have a cousin – she and her partner were due to go on holiday the following morning. My cousin’s partner started feeling unwell that afternoon, by tea time he was decidedly a lot worse and seemed to be very unwell – my cousin started to panic as her partner was in a pretty bad state.

She got through to the Surgery, by this time she was really panicking as her partner was drifting in and out and not with it at all.

My cousin spoke to one of the Receptionists – she gave her the details – the Receptionist put her straight through to the Doctor, my cousin went through everything again with the Doctor, the Doctor asked her to phone an ambulance immediately – but what she thought he said was that HE would phone an ambulance for her. She said that her head was all over the place and she was certain that he said he would phone.

She waited over an hour – no ambulance arrived. She phoned the surgery again and it was closed. She was in a fit of panic by this point  – instead of phoning 999 she phoned the out of hours number on the answer machine and had to go through everything with them. She now blames herself that she did not phone 999 instead. The out of hours contacted ambulance control who confirmed that no ambulance had been requested earlier but despatched an ambulance immediately.

The ambulance arrived too late – my cousins partner had died of a heart attack.

 

Had her surgery had a 999 protocol the ambulance would have been called.

Discuss such events at your next Practice Meeting – get everyone following the same procedure.

Receptionists Training / The Incident Report Form


INCIDENT REPORT FORM

Following on from my previous blog:  Dealing with a Complaint. http://wp.me/p1zPRQ-6g

I would recommend any complaint that you receive no matter how small that you record it in some way.
Complaints often have a habit of coming back at you weeks down the line and can often leave you unable to give an accurate account of the incident.  A complaints form is completed  by the person making the complaint  i.e the customer/patient. The Incident Report Form is completed by a member of your staff to give an accurate account of what happened.

When I was a manager I devised a form to go with each “incident” that might have occurred in the Surgery. The form would be completed by the member of staff that was involved in the initial incident.

I use the word “Incident” as this form was not just used for people who wanted to make a complaint – we used to have appropriate “complaints forms” that customers/patients could complete themselves.  The incident form was purely for staff – and an incident could cover so many things – but the idea behind it was to bring awareness that something had happened – and needed to be discussed and at times a procedure put in place for it not to happen again. Sometimes, not often an “incident” could turn into a “complaint”

It was difficult at first to get staff to complete these forms – they seen it as “another job that had to be done”.  But far from it this form was to give an accurate account of what happened at the time of the incident, and to have it logged in case it was needed at a future date.  Staff soon got to realise that these forms indeed gave them the change to document the incident as it happened – as sometimes when a complaint was made the “story” could be completely different.

The form itself was very easy to complete – this is basically how it looked

INCIDENT REPORT FORM                        (Form number)

Incident Date………………………………      Incident Time……………………………………..

Place of Incident…………………………………………………………………………………………………

Name of Person/Persons Involved in Incident………………………………………………..

Contact Details of Person involved in Incident………………………………………………..

Brief Summary of Incident……………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Signed ……………………………………………………….   Print Name…………………………………..

Position………………………………………………………  Dated…………………………………………….

It was important to record the date and the time of the incident, and also the place of the incident, i.e. Reception Area, Doctors Surgery, Car Park etc. Contact details were also very important – telephone numbers were always the best contact and then address. I found it was always helpful to speak to someone first and then to follow-up the conversation/solution with a letter.  I always found this a good way of defusing what could sometimes be a difficult situation.

As a Manager getting a “complaint” from a customer is sometime the first you will get to know of the incident. They might sometime complain about the attitude of a staff  member or want to complain about one of the Doctors or someone else in the healthcare team. All I had was the customer’s side of the story. I would then go down and speak to the member of staff involved in the incident and this could often lead to anger or resentment because they felt that they (the staff member) they were being “blamed” for the incident when in fact the story was not entirely correct. Trying to deal with any angry member
of staff is not good – they feel that you are accusing them of the incident when in fact all you are trying to do is get a clear picture of the incident.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE FORM WHEN IT HAS BEEN COMPLETED

It is important to have the form as soon as possible after the incident has occurred. If necessary give the staff member time out from their work station to complete the form. It is important to get the details down while the incident if fresh in their minds. Also get them to include in the form if there were other member of staff that could witness the incident.

I sometimes found it easier if the staff member sat beside me and I typed out the incident as they recalled it.

You need to log the incident. Keep a file for the Incident Reports.  Number each incident form. This way you can keep a record of each form.

You need to decide if the incident is a complaint or just an incident. If it is a complaint you need to contact the person concerned and discuss the complaint with them and deal with it appropriately.  With an Incident you need to decide if you need to contact anyone or just to record it and discuss at the next staff meeting.

Record every time you deal with the form i.e when you spoke to the member of staff concerned.

If the “Incident” has involved a member of your team i.e Receptionist/Administrator then you need to discuss the form at the next staff meeting.

Go through the form – discuss with staff what could have been done differently – if at all, and if necessary a different policy or procedure can be put into place.

If the “Incident” involves a Doctor at the practice then the Practice Manager needs to address this with the appropriate Doctors.

WHAT BENEFITS DID THE FORM GIVE?

After a while the Receptionist actually seen this as a great support – it gave them a change to give their side to an incident that may have occurred in Reception. Often not coming to anything, but on occasions it actually supported them and showed that they acted correctly in the incident.

By discussing the “Incident Reports” in staff meetings gave opportunity to learn and go forward and for new Receptionists it was a good training of how to deal with “Incidents” at the front desk.

But what did come from it was that we started using the form for “nicer incidents” that might have occurred in the Surgery. A patient to the surgery might have given a nice complement, or a visitor might have made a comment that could improve the surgery or the service that we gave  – the girls would often write out a form for discussion t the next meeting – that certainly gave everyone a boost to have a “nice incident” read out.

WHAT DID I GET OUT OF IT?

As a Manager I felt it was a way that I was involved in incidents that had occurred in the Reception Area.

I felt the form gave tremendous support to the Receptionist Staff.

It was a way of ensuring that the same incidents were not occurring over and over again.

They were very useful to use as examples in staff training.

And

The best of all several months after starting the forms in the surgery I had a Receptionist come to my office and thank me for introducing the form. She said that she had been at the Surgery for 5 years and have never felt “supported” in some of the incidents that had occurred in Reception – and now the form was being used that she and the other Receptionists now felt that they had an opportunity to give over their side of the story.

For me it certainly was a Job worth doing.

Patients: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.


The events described in my blog are based on my experiences as a Receptionist and  Manager. For obvious reasons of privacy and confidentiality I have made certain
changes, altered identifying features and fictionalised some aspects, but it remains an honest reflection of life as a Receptionist and Manager working within the Healthcare  sector.

             Patients come in all shapes and sizes – literary.

In all my years working in the NHS I would actually say that 90% of patients were always courteous, friendly and extremely grateful. There of course were the other 10% those that would complain and were always ready for an argument. Unfortunately these people can spoil any good organisation they come across.

One thing I learnt working within the healthcare sector is that you have to learn very quickly not to be judgemental.

I believe that you should always treat people as you would want to be treated.

I quickly found the best way forward was to gain the trust of the patients. Listen to their needs; get to know them as people – after all everyone is different. Let them get to know you as a person. The trust soon builds up – but it has to work two ways and when it does it works well. The patient won’t push their boundaries and they will trust you to do the best for them – and you do.         

On a daily basis receptionists will come across people from different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. Receptionists will come across people who are often frightened, anxious, nervous, or just downright rude. That is the nature of the business that we are in.

The key to dealing with these people especially is the rude patients is to remember that there might be a reason why they are being rude – now don’t get me wrong rude is not acceptable – but in some cases these people might be in pain, be worried about what might be wrong with them or perhaps a loved one – maybe worried about the unknown or recently suffered a bereavement. You can’t always see on the outside what is going on in the inside.

But of course there are those patients who are just downright rude – and when I trained new staff the best possible advice I could give them was to try to not to take rudeness personally. Rude people are usually rude wherever they go – it’s not just the Doctors Surgery they keep their rudeness for.

The first rule I would advise a Receptionist when they were faced with a rude patient at the desk would not to answer back. Don’t get involved in a disagreement or argument. Don’t fuel an argument. But it is important to listen to what the patient is saying.

Sometimes a person just needs to let off steam – not right but it happens – and nothing more will fuel an angry person is another person arguing back. So, listen, apologise if the fault was on our part and after a while you will find that the rude/angry person starts to cool down – they have nothing to fuel their anger – and usually the Receptionist will find that the patient will actually end up apologising for their outburst or anger.

Another thing is to sit and think to yourself – this person is not directing this at me “Ann”
they are venting their anger at the “Receptionist” the person sitting in front of them and if someone else was sitting here behind the Reception desk they would be saying exactly the same to the that person. I always found this a good one to remember when someone was being rude to me at the desk.

But if this continues as sometimes it did 3 or 4 times in a morning or afternoon you can soon start to take it personally.  I always would advise a Receptionist if she ever found herself in a situation that she couldn’t handle then she should walk away from it and pass the patient over to someone else to deal with. We all have had to do that at sometime. We all came across situations they we felt was out of our control – but it was the way you dealt with it that was important.

At times we also had to face violent patients – I am pleased to say that our Surgery didn’t have many of these – but when we did it was unpleasant not only for staff but for other patients in the surgery too. In all my time there were only a couple of times we had to call the police – thankfully. But unfortunately there were Surgeries not so far from us that had that had violent patients to deal with on a daily basis.

Another thing I found in my journey from Receptionist to Manager is well-trained staff are confident staff. Often Receptionists are faced with a situation that they are unable to handle. Confident staff can usually defuse a situation before it starts getting out of hand.

I will be sharing some of my experiences and stories when dealing with patients throughout the years in future blogs.