Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thou Shall Return Phone Calls

Before dismounting from my high horse, I will add a ninth rule for psychiatrists (but stopping short of an Old Testamentish ten):

9. Return phone calls. One of the most common complaints I hear from patients about their previous psychiatrist(s) is the failure to return phone calls--and not merely to do so in a timely manner, but rather to do so at all. I can't imagine doing this, any more than I can imagine just not showing up for work. I understand that, except for those private docs able to bill (and collect!) for phone calls, these interruptions of the work day seem to represent unpaid work. But it seems to me that just like the office space and furniture, time spent on phone calls should just be considered a cost of doing business, part of overhead. Of course, there are occasional patients who abuse the right or privilege to reach their doctor by phone, but those cases can be dealt with individually. Sometimes I think that if one wanted to do well in a private practice, a willingness simply to return calls promptly and politely would put one ahead of the game.

Okay, that's it.

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