On-call scenario 2: Questions

Last updated: Monday, July 11, 2016

There are four questions that you may find yourself asking a lot when you're on-call, and they all apply in this situation. Here they are:

1. Who are you?
Maybe you'll want to ask this less bluntly. Perhaps something like "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name" or "Are you one of the medical team?" You need to know what authority the person has to change the patient's medication. A junior doctor might need some coaching about how to prescribe a non-formulary drug, for example, or might welcome advice on using the e-prescribing system. If you're speaking to a nurse, then you might need to ask to be referred on to a doctor at some stage. Always find out who you're speaking to and how to get back to them. It's not rude.
Answer: Dr Rahul Kotecha, FY2 on Medicine, bleep 3344.

2. What's the patient's name?
Always take this information and another identifier like an age or hospital number in case you need to look up something about them on a Trust computer system. Also if you end up speaking to a different healthcare professional about this case, you can avoid all ambiguity by clearly identifying the patient.
Answer: Amy Steer, aged 78.

3. Which medicines are they taking?
You'll need a drug history in case of potential interactions, or perhaps you'll identify other issues about this patient's medicines once you know the full story.
Answer: Co-beneldopa dispersible 25/100 QDS  and  Ropinirole 2mg QDS. Nil else.

4. Why are you asking about this?
Again, you may want to phrase this differently: "What made you want to switch to a patch?" or "Why do you want to change the patient's medicines?" An open question like this should prompt the caller to give you a brief outline of the patient's clinical situation.
Answer: Patient having their medicines through a nasogastric tube but they keep trying to pull it out. Thinking of changing their Parkinson’s medicines to a rotigotine patch but need to know the dose conversion.


Now that you have more information about the patient, you ring off and start to look for an answer to this clinical problem.

Which information sources would you use?

Once you've decided, click Next Page to see some ideas...