Thursday, February 21, 2019


Me: "Hi, this is Dr. McFizz calling from My Hospital about a mutual patient RareFirstName RareLastName.  I have a question about the patient."

Receptionist: "Okay, can you spell his name?"

Me: [spells name and gives date of birth]

Receptionist: "And can you give me his home address?"

Me: "No, I don't have that."

Receptionist: "Well, we need it to make sure we have the right patient."

Me: "You mean there's another 81-year-old man in your system named RareFirstName RareLastName?"

Receptionist: "We need it for security."

Me: "Fine." [I find a computer, log in, get the address, and read it to her.]

Receptionist: "And can you verify his phone number?"

Me: [reads off phone number]

Receptionist: "And can you verify his insurance?"

Me: "No. I will not. This is ridiculous.  I have never once had to give this information to speak with a doctor's office to get medical information.  I just need to know how long your office would like him be on Lovenox for."

Receptionist: "Well, that's a pill, right?  I don't see anything about it here, so he should continue it till his appointment."

Me: "Lovenox is an injection."

Receptionist: "Well, it doesn't mention anything about it here.  So I'd say continue it until his appointment next month."

Me: "So you're saying he needs to inject himself with a blood thinner every day for the next month because you can't be bothered to ask anyone about it."

Receptionist: "Ummm.... let me get you his nurse."

OMG, I try not to yell at people on the phone, but seriously, if you don't know the answer to a medical question, don't just make something up! 


  1. You need to let this physician know that his non-medical front office staff is giving medical advice without a license. That is dangerous and I bet the providers do not know that is happening!

    1. Yeah, in retrospect, I should have done that when I talked to the nurse, rather than just grumbling about it to people next to me.

  2. In all fairness the President knows nothing about economics, foreign policy, health care, the Constitution, or law in general, and he makes stuff up all the time. I expect people are dying from it.

  3. I think the receptionist missed that you introduced yourself as a doctor, or misunderstood their training. As a doctor you can't really "verify their insurance information" because you're not the patient/family member. You can read off the information that is on the chart but that isn't really verifying. Receptionists are trained to verify the information at every point of contact in order to make sure that it is accurate and up-to-date to prevent billing problems, but that's not really applicable when a provider is calling. I'm confused why the receptionist didn't just put you through to medical staff.

    1. It could be, although I did have a lot of the information because it was in the computer. It was still ridiculous. I am certain she knew I was medical staff though, if not a doctor.

  4. Oh for pity's sake. I suspect the receptionist didn't hear the part about "Dr" McFizz heard a woman's voice, and assumed it wasn't a doctor.

    1. Ha, that could be. It was still inappropriate for her to guess at the answer though, no matter who she thought she was talking to.

  5. Well here is the thing about giving out pt info. While as a dr caring for the pt you are entitled to the info, but the person doing the providing has to make sure you are a dr first. It is typical for us to require pt first, last name dob, and zip code or tele plus provider NPI before we relay any info to anyone over the phone claiming to be a provider. You could be joe schmo being a nosy neighbor. That being said any front office staff providing medical recommendations should be fired. That is one huge liability for the office!

    1. I have called hundreds of doctors' offices in my career and I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to provide anything besides my name, the patient's name, and their date of birthday. I have never, ever been asked my provider NPI. This is probably the only time I've ever been asked for a patient's address/zip.