Start Your FREE Membership NOW
 Discover Proven Ways to Be a Better Medical Office Manager
 Get Our Daily eNewsletter, MOMAlert, and MUCH MORE
 Absolutely NO Risk or Obligation on Your Part -- It's FREE!

Upgrade to Premium Membership NOW for Just $90!
Get 3 Months of Full Premium Membership Access
Includes Our Monthly Newsletter, Office Toolbox, Policy Center, and Archives
Plus, You Get FREE Webinars, and MUCH MORE!

Is our wart lady here yet? Respecting patient privacy and dignity

True story: A friend of a staff member here at Medical Office Manager, awaiting treatment at a general practitioner’s office for a small but bothersome wart, heard this loud call into the crowded waiting room, “Is our wart lady lady here yet?” She changed doctors after that embarrassing experience.

Calling patients into medical office examination rooms while protecting their privacy and dignity is essential to maintaining their comfort and trust. Here are some good practices  for office and clinical staff to follow:

  1. Use Names Respectfully: Address patients by their last name and, if appropriate, their title (e.g., Mr., Mrs., Dr.) when calling them into the examination room. Avoid using overly familiar terms unless the patient has explicitly requested it. And no nicknames like ‘Wart Lady’ or ‘Jock Itch Guy.’
  2. Wait in a Private Area: If the examination rooms are not located in a private area, wait in a discreet, separate space (e.g., a hallway or consultation room) rather than directly outside the examination room door. This ensures that conversations are not overheard.
  3. Knock Gently: Before entering the examination room, knock gently and wait for a response from the patient. Always respect their privacy and give them a moment to respond.
  4. Close the Door: Ensure that the examination room door is closed behind you to provide a secure and private environment for the patient.
  5. Maintain Eye Contact: When addressing the patient, make eye contact and use a calm and respectful tone of voice. This helps convey your professionalism and respect for their dignity.
  6. Provide a Gown and Privacy: If the patient needs to change into a gown, provide one and instruct them on its use. Ensure they have a private area to change, and if needed, offer assistance while respecting their boundaries and preferences.
  7. Explain Procedures: Before starting any medical procedures or examinations, explain what will happen, why it’s necessary, and obtain the patient’s informed consent. Encourage questions and ensure they feel comfortable throughout the process.
  8. Offer a Chaperone: For sensitive examinations, offer patients the option of having a chaperone present. Always have a staff member available for this purpose.
  9. Use Curtains or Screens: If examination rooms are shared, use curtains, screens, or partitions to separate patients visually and maintain their privacy when they are not actively receiving care.
  10. Minimize Overhearing: Be mindful of conversations that may be overheard by others, whether it’s about the patient’s medical history, condition, or personal information. Use discretion and lower your voice when discussing sensitive matters.
  11. Respect Modesty: Always respect the patient’s modesty by providing appropriate draping during examinations and ensuring they are adequately covered.
  12. Offer Time for Questions: At the end of the appointment, provide time for the patient to ask questions or discuss concerns in a private setting.
  13. Document Clearly: When documenting patient information, use a private and secure area to ensure that sensitive information is not exposed.
  14. Training and Sensitivity: Ensure that all staff members are trained in patient privacy and dignity protocols and are sensitive to the needs and preferences of patients from diverse backgrounds.

By consistently following these good practices, you can create a medical office environment where patients feel respected, safe, and comfortable, which is essential for building trust and providing quality healthcare.