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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Donald R. Frey, MD (Creighton University Medical Center)
Description: This manual is a guide to handling the multitude of questions, requests, and concerns that physicians are confronted with over the phone every day. Replete with key points and algorithms, it covers considerable territory in the world of telephone patient encounters.
Purpose: The purpose is to assist the physician in dealing with the large numbers of patient phone calls that are a part of any busy primary care practice. Given constraints of time, insurance coverage (or lack thereof), and schedules, phone call efficiency is a must for any private practice. This book efficiently describes guidlines for dealing with patient calls.
Audience: It is intended for primary care physicians, but midlevel providers and subspecialty practitioners will benefit from the common sense approach to patient calls. The authors, although quite knowledgable, are for the most part "big city" academic internists. The book would be more family practice friendly if it included some authors with experience in rural settings.
Features: The book begins with an excellent three chapter overview of the general approach to patient-physician telephone encounters, and how doctors can both better serve the patient and at the same time protect themselves medicolegally. The remainder of the book is a presentation of numerous common patient requests and/or diagnostic categories that physicians encounter on the phone. Numerous algorithims are used, and the chapter on calls from difficult patients is particulary helpful.
Assessment: Although many algorithims exist for nurses triaging phone calls for answering services, few concise books are available to physicians. Although no single book can cover all potential phone calls, this one certainly deals with a wide array of the most common calls doctors receive. It will be of interest to those physicians who are wise enough to deal with their patients over the phone, and not simply delegate such responsibility to staff.