If This is a Medical Emergency, …

“Thank you for calling Cooley-Dickinson Calling the vetHealth Group – Hadley Family Practice. If this is a medical emergency, please hang up and dial 911.”

“Thank you for calling Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children. We are dedicated to providing high quality care every day. If this is a medical emergency, please hang up and dial 911.”

What’s wrong with this picture? Why on earth aren’t the medical emergency instructions given first?

This rankles me every time I get an answering machine at a medical facility. I can’t possibly believe you are dedicated to providing quality care if you would rather talk about it than do it by getting me off the phone as fast you can in an emergency.

  • Distinguish between the need to build rapport and the need to get to the point.
  • When it is time to get to the point, do it quickly.
  • Don’t copy others when they are doing something stupid.
  • And please don’t seize every opportunity to tell me how wonderful you are. Actions speak more loudly than words and spouting platitudes during a medical emergency will not convince me of your dedication to quality care.

P.S. While writing this, I wanted to see if other facilities had even longer messages than Tufts. That experiment didn’t last! Baystate Health and Mass General answered the phone!

If this is a medical emergency, don’t call me! But if you need clarity, dial 617-939-9654 ASAP!

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