Reason Number 25: Call Backs.
Yesterday, I was sitting on a bench at my son’s school waiting for him to finish his extracurricular activities when one of the front desk staff approached me.
“Do you remember calling me about my son? He’s 18 now, but in the third grade he had a kidney stone, and you called while we were on vacation to check on him.”
I wracked my brain – ten years and close to 40,000 patient visits later, I was having a difficult time recalling the call.
“I’ll never forget that you called us then.”
Certain patients niggle my brain. I’ll think about them when I’m in the car or shopping in the grocery store. Sometimes I worry about them. Sometimes I’m just curious to see how a visit to a subspecialist went. When I can, I like to pick up the phone to check on them. I wish I called back more, but it’s just not possible in the controlled chaos that is my pediatric office.
Calling back takes effort – finding a phone number, making the space for a couple of quiet minutes when I won’t be interrupted. It’s worth the effort, the instantaneous feedback. Sometimes e-mail suffices – although phone calls feel more personal. In a perfect world, I’d call all my patients back – check to see if that antibiotic helped the ear infection, hear how the jaundiced newborn was eating, follow-up on the discharge from the hospital for H1N1 – the response would enhance my medical care.