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Are there any quick tips I can pass on to my nurses to improve telephone communication between them and physicians at my facility?

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Physicians often act like a nurse's phone call is a huge interruption—without realizing that the call interrupts the nurse's day as well. Tell you nurses to keep the following telephone tips in mind:

  • Don't begin with an apology. Identify yourself and the patient.
  • Always have the chart, labs, and latest vital signs in hand.
  • Put yourself in the physician's shoes; use critical thinking skills and have an idea of what you think you need before you call.
  • Don't beat around the bush; say what you need or want.
  • Anticipate after-hours needs as much as possible so you won't need to call a physician.
  • Repeat back to the physician a summary of the order or the conversation.
  • Use the speaker phone for rude physicians, and let them know you are doing so.
  • If a physician is verbally abusive, say, "I am hanging up now. Please call back when you are calmer." Then hang up.

—Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, BS