Telephone Encounters
The same basic information must be recorded for every telephone call: date; time; name and age of the patient; telephone number; symptoms; disposition of the call; whether it is a repeat call; and the person handling the call. In most offices, the only practical way to record this information is in a telephone log. It is too difficult to pull patient charts for every call. Using a central telephone log also allows the supervising physician to monitor the management of calls in the office. The problem with telephone logs is that they can prevent important medical information from being incorporated into the patient’s chart.
There must be a protocol to determine what information should be transcribed from the telephone log into the patient’s chart. This problem will be eased considerably if the physician uses a telephone log with a preprinted information form on 2-part carbonless paper. Ideally, the copy of every call slip will be filed into the patient’s chart. If this is impossible, it is critical to transfer all treatment recommendations, prescriptions, refill call-ins, referrals to the emergency room, and repeat calls for the same problem.