Cell phone etiquette in the doctor’s office

Just a Minute, Boss. My Cell Phone Is Ringing in today’s New York Times describes emerging cellphone etiquette in the workplace. Toward the end of the article there’s a discussion of cellphone use in doctors’ offices:

[Dr. Gailmard’s patient] recently… took a call to discuss her evening plans: where to meet for drinks, where to make reservations for dinner. “You’re stuck in an awkward situation,” he said. “The patient doesn’t seem to regard that the doctor is waiting. People have very personal discussions.” When patients talk too long, he recommends offering to leave the room. “I find that gets them to hang up,” he said. “They don’t want you to leave.”

Dr. Gailmard is even more disturbed by doctors who take calls while seeing patients, but said he is not surprised. “I think it’s rude. But what actually happens in doctors’ offices is very different from what should happen.”

Actually, I don’t have a problem with doctors talking on the phone during appointments. I’m glad to know they can be reached when needed. In general I think it’s much worse when the patient takes a call.

I did have an experience a year ago when my dental hygienist took a cell phone call from her mother while she was cleaning my teeth. It wasn’t a social call but it wasn’t an emergency either, and it really annoyed me.

July 7, 2005

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