Try to minimize time-sapping callbacks

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Nov 01, 2002

Dr. McCormick is on the computer filling a prescription for a late client and is hoping to go home to a nice dinner with her husband.

As usual, Dan is home from his job a little earlier and tonight has agreed to make dinner. Dr. Mac, as she is affectionately known, smiles at the expectation of a leisurely repast at home.

Although many computer terminals are up and running, most of the staff wanted to use Dr. Mac's current computer terminal for various reasons-this makes for a cozy, albeit inefficient, situation at this terminal.

Josie, the receptionist, angles her way through the crowd of staff members to bend Dr. Mac's ear one more time. This time it is about "Calli" Morgan. It seems that Josie has spent most of the afternoon relaying information to Dr. Mac from more than the usual number of people who have called back to inform the hospital of an assortment of questions.

Dr. Mac had sent a number of patients home in the morning while dividing her time between surgery and medical patients.

Afternoon shapes up

This is how the afternoon had gone for Josie and Dr. Mac:

"Missy" Jones had gone home at 10 a.m. having been spayed in the hospital yesterday. There were no problems and Dr. Mac had waved and told Mrs. Jones through the door that "Missy" had done well and would need to come back in 10 days. Josie received a call at 1 p.m. from Mrs. Jones. She had a list of questions she had concerning the surgery and had some specific questions about pain control. Josie had asked how "Missy" was doing and Mrs. Jones said that she was doing just fine. Mrs. Jones insisted, however, on talking to Dr. Mac. Dr. Mac interrupted a current client and came to the phone and spent about 10 minutes on the phone with Mrs. Jones.

"Samantha" Hughes, a 6-month-old Doberman had been picked up on Sunday afternoon a day early from boarding. Jennifer, who was doing kennels Sunday afternoon, had let Mrs. Hughes pick up Samantha early because she appeared at the door and insisted in taking her pet home a day early. Jennifer had looked on the chart and had seen that Mrs. Hughes had already paid the bill ahead of time. Therefore, she let "Samantha" go. Her owner, Jane Hughes, has called back to ask about "Sam's" shots. She was supposed to have had all her shots before she left, and she didn't get her rabies tag. Helen, one of the techs who now was in second place for the computer, said she was planning on giving the shots Monday morning and did not know but thought that someone else must have given the vaccinations because "Samantha" was gone when she got here today.

"Boomer" Smith, a rambunctious Old-English Sheepdog went home from a heartworm treatment while Dr. Mac was in surgery doing a lump removal. At 2 p.m., Mr. Smith calls to inform Josie that "Boomer" is full of fleas and wants a free flea bath. Josie becomes frantic and asks Dr. Mac what to do. Naturally, she looks at the chart and finds no record of an examination upon entry to the hospital. She begrudgingly tells Josie to schedule a bath for "Boomer" tomorrow. Unfortunately tomorrow is Saturday and it will take a while for Boomer to dry-someone will need to come in Saturday afternoon to release and dry the flea depopulated "Boomer."

It will also take quite a performance to convince Mr. Smith tomorrow morning that "Boomer" likely will return to a house full of flea eggs and larvae. After all, to Mr. Smith, "Boomer" got the fleas "at the vet."

Just keeps coming

"Denver" Poole, a very thin Whippet, was diagnosed last week with congestive heart failure and was to have been seen again this afternoon. Dr. Mac remembers spending an hour explaining the condition to Mr. Poole.

According to Josie, it seems that Mr. Poole understands "Denver's" condition quite well. He just wants to know how long to use the medications. He also tells Josie that he will be out of town for two weeks and wonders if "Denver" can go that long with medication. He also called to cancel his appointment as "Denver" is doing "quite well, thank you," and is not even coughing anymore.

Dr. Jeffers saw "Callie" Morgan, an elderly cat with chronic kidney disease, last night on an emergency. Dr. Jeffers is off today and Dr. Mac had dutifully and carefully treated "Callie" this morning and attended to the technical details of this very ill and debilitated patient.

When Dr. Mac found a few opportune moments to call Mr. Morgan to give an update of "Callie's" condition, the phone number was out of service. Now late this afternoon Mr. Morgan has called when things were crazy and related that he does not understand what is wrong with his pet and needed to come in and see his cat and talk to the doctor. This was 5 p.m. and he said it would be an hour before he could get to the hospital. Mrs. Hughes with "Samantha" (for her tardy shots) and Mr. and Mrs. Morgan with "Callie" show up together at the door close to 6 p.m. just as Dan calls and says that supper is ready. Dr. Mac throws back her hair and buries her head in her hands.

What really happened

Dr. Mac and Josie had unknowingly spent a large portion of the afternoon dealing with callbacks.

Callbacks are inevitable. Our objective is not to eliminate them, but to reduce callbacks to a minimum.