Do you have staff at your surgery that are registered as patients

imagesCATCEDD8Does your surgery have staff members that are also patients?

A Practice that I worked for did have several staff that was registered as patients. Normally this worked out well until one Monday morning…………………

True Story:

I answered my phone to the Supervisor from one of the surgeries  – it was 9.00 am and of course very busy. She told me that one of the Receptionists on her team was poorly. She told me that the Receptionist had just seen the doctor and he had told her that she had shingles – and that he told her it was ok for her to carry on working.

I got in the car straightaway and went down to the surgery to see what was happening.

The Receptionist in herself was feeling ok – but the shingles were on her hand and she was on the front desk booking patients in. The shingles were obvious on her hands and arm. The other Receptionists were also concerned about her working.

I went in to to the Doctor and suggested that I sent her home – he first reaction was but the girls are short-staffed in reception and we are busy!

We talked it through and agreed that she would be sent home and I would get another Receptionist to cover her shift.

I put this incident onto the agenda for the next Doctors meeting. It was interesting to hear what each of the doctors had to say about it – most agreed that she should have been sent home, but the doctor in question did raise the issue of it being difficult he said that he felt torn as a doctor and as an employer.  As a doctor he would have signed her off work but as an employer he knew it would have caused a lot of problems in reception if he sent her home.  At that moment in time he said that being the employer took over – he knew they were short-staffed in reception, and that the receptionist was in fact ok in herself so took the decision that she could carry on working. The Receptionist was also happy to continue working.

I asked if she had not been an employee what his decision would have been. He replied that he would have signed her off sick.

This did raise some concerns within the meeting and from that meeting a decision was taken that any new employee was told that they could not register with the practice as a patient while they worked there and all other staff that was registered at the practice they were told that they could stay on the practice list but would have to be seen by another Doctor at one of the other surgeries. That way no pressure would be put on any of the doctors not to sign off staff at their own surgery.

Some Receptionists chose to register with another practice because of this, the others were happy to be seen at one of the other surgeries.

There was also another incident where a Receptionist was registered at the practice she worked in. She had gone for her usual 3 yearly breast screening.

True Story:

The Supervisor of the Receptionist came up to me one morning asking if she could talk to me in private. She had the results of the Receptionist that showed she had breast cancer. The Supervisor was very upset by this as she was not only a colleague but a very good friend to the Receptionist.

It was by sheer luck that the Supervisor had in fact opened the results that morning – not a job she normally done – it usually was done by one of the other Receptionists. The Supervisor was upset by the fact that she knew the Receptionist has breast cancer and was sitting in Reception laughing and joking not knowing what lay ahead of her.

I took the results down to her doctor who spoke to the Receptionist concerned. 

So, while there might be benefits to having staff registered as patients it can also lead to problems.

Do you have a system whereby if staff are registered as patients that their records are blocked so their notes are not open for everyone to read?

How would you have managed the above?