Five Practical Pointers: Preparing to be away from your practice

As you may be packing your suitcase for an upcoming summer vacation, there are a few things to consider before taking time away from your practice.

1) Make certain your staff has accurate telephone numbers and other contact information.  Discuss with them situations in which you absolutely want to be contacted; which may include problems with specific patients.  Remember, your staff knows how hard you work and may be reluctant to contact you on your vacation so clear guidance (preferably in writing) will take the burden off of them and ensure that you receive needed information.

2) Coverage instructions should include procedures for staff on how to deal with potentially or increasingly suicidal patients or those with other dangerous behaviors. After directing a patient per your coverage instruction, the staff should notify you immediately.

3) Leave specific instructions on your voicemail and/or your answering service as to how patients may be directed to services for assistance in your absence. Make sure the information includes instructions about where patients can access care in an emergency, including going to the patient’s local emergency room

4) Discuss with your partners, or other physicians who will be covering in your absence, those patients about whom you have particular concerns.  Again, discuss with them those situations in which you will want to be consulted.

5) Always lock up prescription pads.


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