FROM THE EDITOR
A few days ago, I had received a post surgical report from an area surgeon about a patient of mine who had undergone cataract extraction. If you are like me, I like to jump quickly to the plan and recommendaions.
Most of the time, these kinds of letters don’t catch my attention too often. But on this day, I noticed that the surgeon had asked the patient to follow up in one year at their office. I reread once. And twice more. I was bit astonished. We had been working together for a year and this is the first time I had noticed this in a plan.
After three reads, it was clear to me that either the surgeon had perfunctorily completed a computer form letter and did not change the “plan” or did intend to “keep” the patient. I reached for the phone to immediately call the surgeon’s office and before my finger hit any number, I paused and put down the receiver.
I smiled to myself and asked what result I wanted from this phone call. I wanted both an explanation and possibly a change in their office’s procedure. But the result was more important than the explanation. It’s a lot easier to change a policy than to try to explain the original reason for the policy. So I knew that if I had angrily called, I would be embroiled more in the defense of the policy than about changing it. In this instance and before my call, I wrote a few points I wanted to make on note paper and calmly called the surgeon’s office. The surgeon apologized for the form of the letter and said it was an obvious mistake.
In summary, there are two things to learn from this call. First, have an objective or end result for your call whether it be clarification or a change in behavior. Second, often be sure that the the result or the explanation is more important. The next time you reach that phone to talk to someone, think about it first. If you want something to happen, you might get a better response or result. For me, the surgeon discharges the patient back to my care whenever I had referred them a patient.
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