Eye Contact and a Smile


A friend of mine had to go for an X-Ray yesterday at his local hospital. The hospital is in the process of going through some building work and many of the departments have been moved around – so finding the X-Ray department was somewhat of a challenge.

He followed the temporary signs to the X-Ray department and upon arrival asked the Receptionist if he was in the right place.

He was quite surprised by her attitude, he was made to feel as if he was a nuisance, and an inconvenience for being there. She replied quite abruptly that he was, took his referral letter and told him to take a seat.

At no time did the Receptionist give him eye contact, smile or show any signs of any customer care.

He sat and waited. There were another 4 people in the waiting room.

A nurse came out and called his name, the receptionist rudely snapped at the nurse and asked what she was doing and asked if she had taken from the bottom of the pile. My friend said that you could feel the nurse’s embarrassment at being spoken to in such a way, her red face for all to see.

The nurse explained to the Receptionist that the other people in the waiting room in fact were waiting to be accessed by her colleague before being seen.

My friend got up and followed the nurse, who was absolutely lovely. She welcomed him with a smile. She asked him how he was, and spoke about the weather and held a general conversation. He found her extremely friendly and this put him at ease.

I asked my friend how he felt about the two completely different approaches when be dealt with and he said that going into a Department people can be often worried and concerned as they could be going for tests that could have such a big impact of their life. Many people that are having tests at a hospital are feeling anxious and do not need to be met with rude staff.

He found the Receptionist unhelpful, uncaring and actually felt uneasy when being dealt with by her. He also found it embarrassing when she spoke in such an abrupt way to the Nurse, and he felt that she should not have done that.

As for the nurse, he found her lovely, helpful and put him at ease within the first couple of minutes. He felt able to ask questions about his test something he wouldn’t felt he was able to do with the Receptionists.

Staff have such a big impact on patients in the way that they deal with them, from the moment they walk into your organisation whether it be a hospital, or a Surgery every single member of your staff should treat every single patient with respect.

Eye contact and a smile speaks volumes.


Who Is Responsible For Following Up Test Results

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How does your surgery deal with any abnormal results that might come in for a patient? These might come in via the hospital via the computer/paper and at times via a telephone call from the hospital itself if immediate action is needed.

How do you communicate with your patients that they need to be seen regarding the tests or perhaps notifying them that they have a prescription to collect?

In my experience the Doctor/Nurse or often the receptionist will phone the patient and advise them to either make an appointment or come in and collect a prescription.

Does your surgery keep a record of all test taken and check that all results are back and dealt with in the appropriate way?

There had been at times when I was a Receptionist that some results for what ever reason  never come back from the hospital to the surgery.

There is always a chance on human error – and although we all know how hard we work and how good we are at our jobs that it can still happen. Sometimes A doctor might intend to ring a patient and that gets overlooked, a receptionist has a message to call a patient and that for whatever reason that does not get done, or someone could presume that someone else has done it, there could be a number of reasons why a patient might not be contacted. The hospital may have mislaid the test – sometimes the test is not labelled correctly and therefore needs to be repeated – and for whatever reason the patient does not get told about this.

These occasions are I am pleased to say very far and few between. But they could happen.

An incident similar to one of those above did happen years ago when paper copies of tests came through daily to the surgery – a patient abnormal test results were overlooked and filed away. It did cause a lot of unnecessary worry for the patient when they came back in to the surgery with the ongoing illness and of course this was not good for the surgery.

Just recently a friend of mine her young baby had a bad eye infection; the test was taken and sent off to the hospital. She didn’t hear anything from the surgery on my advise phoned the surgery to see if the results were  back – she was told twice they still were not back. No one at her surgery suggested they would follow them up. My friend was under the impression as there was no news that the tests would have been ok.

She went to see the nurse about another issue and asked about the results – which had been done some days ago by this point. This highlighted to the nurse that they didn’t have the result back so she phoned the hospital to find that the results were there and that there was an infection and antibiotics were needed. The hospital had not contacted the surgery and the results for whatever reason had not been sent out by this point (which now is done via computer link). My friend was of the opinion that if she hadn’t asked it could have gone on over the weekend before she had heard from the surgery – if at all.

In my experience as a Receptionist I would always suggest to the patient that if they had not heard with a certain timescale (depending on the test takes) to phone the surgery to check if the results were back.

Your surgery might want to try to avoid patients phoning for test results, tlephones are busy at the best of times, and I know there are quite a few tests done on a daily/weekly basis – but I think it is worth taking that extra phone call to ensure that the tests have actually come back.  Then if the patient decides not to phone – which many don’t then you as a surgery cannot be held responsible if in the event that a result is overlooked.

So, whose responsibility is it in your surgery to ensure that the patient receives the results of any abnormal results? Everyone would automatically say it’s the responsibility of the surgery. But patients sometimes need to take responsibility too.