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10 tips for handling telephone consultations

1 Take and receive calls in a consulting room – not while you are having coffee with the team.

1 Take and receive calls in a consulting room – not while you are having coffee with the team.

2 Make sure you can never be overheard.

3 The same rules apply on the phone as face-to-face – explore the patient's ideas, concerns, and expectations.

4 Make particularly good notes.

5 Don't jump to conclusions – remember you can't read your patient's body language and this makes consultation harder.

6 Always offer a face-to-face consultation – it is essential your patient feels the phone is not a means of fobbing them off.

7 Check understanding at the end of the consultation.

8 Beware of leaving messages on answer phones – after all you might have dialled a wrong number.

9 Always check for allergies and possible drug interactions before prescribing.

10 If you don't feel safe making a clinical judgment, ask to see the patient.

Professor David Haslam is president of the RCGP

David Haslam

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