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Patients getting your pager #

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by ryanbeckworth, Mar 25, 2004.

  1. ryanbeckworth

    ryanbeckworth Member
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    Is this much of an issue? I'm asking because there will be many patients who will view even the intern as their doctor, and this of course is further encouraged at programs where even the prelims hold weekly continuing care clinics. I am going to an internship that uses multiple hospitals, so I'll be unable to help most of these people anyway.

    It seems that when you're making an appointment for someone, which I don't think should be the responsibility of a doctor (sounds more like a social worker issue), you may very well need to leave your pager # for the receptionist to call you back. It is conceivable that patients can get the # from them, and then begin to call you whenever they think something's wrong. Ugh.
     
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  3. IndyXRT

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    Actually, it's not even that difficult. Many times the hospital operator will hand out your pager number if patients call and ask. I'm a prelim intern, so I have no continuity clinic. However, I have one patient that I treated in the hospital who had decided I am his PCP. I feel bad for him, because there's nothing I can do to help when he calls (I refuse to call in prescriptions, since I am unable to see him and re-evaluate him). I wish he'd just work with the PCP I set him up with on discharge. In the end, though, it's just a bit annoying. Not the end of the world.
     
  4. ryanbeckworth

    ryanbeckworth Member
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    That's true, unless the guy starts paging you while you're trying to take a dump, sleep while on call, or at home on your day off.

    People like that will burn out my goodwill pretty fast.
     
  5. Linie

    Linie Senior Member
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    Receptionists should know not to give out your pager number. So should pharmacies, etc. I NEVER give my pager number to patients. And so far no one has gotten a hold of it (in >2.5 yrs). My clinic patients can reach me through an answering service, but they can't page me directly.

    I recommend getting yourself a way to call patients from home without them being able to get your home number (or cell). My hospital has an operator that you can call patients through so the number on their caller ID is a hospital number. It's great. Some people won't pick up the phone if caller ID is blocked.

    It's important to be available to patients, but there are too many people out there who would abuse it, so you have to set up some barriers.
     
  6. margaritaboy

    margaritaboy Senior Member
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    I agree.

    I gave my pager number to a Hispanic woman who didn't speak much English, and didn't have much of a support network. At first it was fine, because I called after discharge to make sure she was following up after her C-section, kid was going to peds appointments etc.

    But....I think it gets to be kind of a crutch for some patients. Nice lady, but at some point patients have to take responsibility for their own care. She called a few times with some complaints about her incision or whatever (she DID end up having a seroma), but I explained that she needed to call, or have a English speaking freind, the clinic. It was just easier and more familiar for her to talk to me and get advice. Very flattering....but not on my day off.

    I plan on guarding my pager number and personal information like a wounded animal.
     
  7. edfig99

    Physician Faculty 15+ Year Member

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    i gave out my pager to many MANY patients during residency and no one ever abused. expecting mothers paged me to do deliveries which was great since most times the L&D staff wouldn't page the residents to come in. family caretakers for my homebound elderly call me when issues come up. visiting nurse services give me status reports. i call from home when I am on call and don't get called back. even if I didn't, the page operator could give out the number (or page me on their behalf). Pharmacists can give your number out (phone # anyway, not pharmacy). if anyone calls with something "inapprorpriate" they'll be told that's not why they have my pager number.


    i work in an inner city urban underserved neighborhood, so even the neediest people don't abuse. but it's variable and ultimately ya gotta use your judgment. it worked for me, won't work for some.
     
  8. docB

    docB Chronically painful
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    This is one thing that's nice about ER. I don't even own a pager anymore. If I want a patient to be able to follw up with me I just tell them when I'll be working again. When I was a resident I would get paged all the time through the hospital operator by patients who had decided I was their PCP.
     
  9. shebangs

    shebangs Junior Member
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    i called a patient from my home phone once (which is caller ID blocked), but they were still able to get back to me through star 69..and my answering machine got it which gave out my phone number. Now the patient calls my home. I think i will ask him to politely stop. so be weary about calling people from home... its good to be available..but there are limits.
     
  10. ryanbeckworth

    ryanbeckworth Member
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    I would be pretty firm with the people who decide you're their PCP. One issue is that you rotate through different services, making it unlikely that a patient you saw for one ailment would be on your service a month later. They may like you better than the other residents, but tough sh%t. Harsh attitude, I admit, but to be awakened or bothered by someone who should not be calling you--and who definitely has someone they should call--is unacceptable in the rest of the world, and should be here as well.
     
  11. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Wish we had some sort of "block". If ANYONE calls and asks for us by name, we are paged by the operator (although I suppose if it became abusive we could have them blocked from calling us). If ANYONE asks for one of the attendings, even in the attending tells the patient to call them, the operator puts them through to the intern on call.

    It is REALLY painful, especially on Friday afternoons when all the patients seem to call. Of course, I don't get many of those calls anymore but when the intern is home post-call, all the outside calls come to me.:rolleyes:

    I don't know of patients who have my pager number but it doesn't matter, they can get ahold of me anytime the pager is on. We frequently have to tell the interns to have patients call their PCP because a lot of the calls are non-surgical in nature. Everyone has to be the same - regardless of your specialty, patients should have a PCP to deal with all management problems not directly related to an intervention you've made. Patient's may not like that because it can take awhile to get into their PCP, but the ER or the end of your phone is not meant to be the Help Line for everyone (yes,l said somewhat bitterly).
     

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