Why tell the receptionist?
I read a news an article today, on the internet, from Sky News about doctor’s receptionists. You can read the article here, apparently it’s common practice nowadays for them to ask you what is wrong with you. Reading some of the comments readers have left it appears that at some surgeries you will be denied an appointment if you don’t tell the receptionist what is wrong with you. The story itself shows just being asked is a problem. The results of a survey has shown many people are put off seeing their doctor because they don’t want to discuss their issue with the receptionist. This of can mean people will delay seeing a doctor until absolutely necessary, which of course can be a fatal decision. Especially if the symptoms turn out to be caused by cancer. It states that many receptionist staff live local to the surgery in which they work, as would the patients, so it’s probably right to assume that passing on personal information is more embarrassing due to the fact you may bump into them when out and about. The article states that experts say this questioning helps identify urgent cases, but does not say who these experts are, reception staff are not medically trained so how do they know what case is the most urgent? So I have two issues with this receptionist questioning; confidentiality, you may argue professionalism would prevent the receptionist discussing you with anyone outside the surgery but if you’re at the desk who else can over hear you. If you are on the telephone the receptionist will probably repeat your answer back to you. She will probably repeat your name, this is a method used to confirm they have heard you correctly, who else can hear that. Secondly, I don’t want an unqualified person making medical decisions for me. That is the territory of medical doctors and nurses, not receptionists. I don’t make medical decisions for my clients, I’ll give you an example. If a client wished for my help with depression I would want to get permission from their doctor to ensure they are suitable and not suffering from some form of psychosis. The doctor doesn’t have to tell me why, just whether or not they see any reason hypnotherapy would not be suitable. Bi-Polar for example would rule a client out for hypnotherapy. However if the doctor agrees and I help the client discover what’s causing the depression and together we resolve the issue I am not qualified to, and would not, advise the client to cease taking their medication. That is for a qualified medical doctor not me. I am as qualified in this area as a doctor’s receptionist. So why should they be making medical decisions about me or anyone? They shouldn’t. I know GP surgeries are very busy but, apart from one readers comment on the news article, I have never heard of a receptionist actually deny an appointment. So why do you need to tell them your symptoms? They should book you the next available appointment that you can get too, not carry out some form of pseudo triage based on their experience of booking appointments. Let’s be honest, when get to see your doctor you have to explain the symptoms to the doctor so the receptionist hasn’t passed them one. I see no reason to tell the receptionist at all. We as patients have a right to medical treatment, confidentiality and decisions made be qualified staff.