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Nurse’s Tips for Calling a Doctor

If you’re a new nurse, calling the doctor, especially in the middle of the night, can be really intimidating. You want to make sure you’re advocating for your patient…but you also want to make sure you’re not going to get yelled at. Here are some tips to make the process go smoothly:

  1. Double check: Does this situation really necessitate a phone call? Is the problem something that warrants immediate action, or is it one that you could address later or just keep an eye on?

  2. Call the Right Doctor: If there is a team of physicians treating the patient, have you contacted the correct one for the issue at hand? If you have trouble deciding which doctor is more appropriate, ask a seasoned co-worker for advice before you make the call.

  3. Be prepared: Have any information you might need in front of you, including EKG strips, lab values, and medication records. If your facility uses a computerized charting system, make sure you are logged in before you call.

  4. Anticipate: Use critical thinking to try and guess what the doctor might ask and provide the information beforehand. For example, if you have a patient with no urine output in his foley bag, you might say, “There have only been 30 cc’s for the past 6 hours. I checked the foley placement and also gave the IV Lasix and fluids you previously ordered.”

  5. Don’t Waste Time: Only give the most relevant information you need to for the problem at hand. State the patient’s name/room number, relevant history (vitals, meds, lab values), your assessment, and your recommended solution, if appropriate. Always read back the order you are given.

  6. Involve Your Co-workers: Before you call, ask a coworker for their advice or opinion. The issue you’re unsure of may be related to something simple you hadn’t considered. It’s also a good idea to ask coworkers if they need to make a phone call to the same physician, so you can just pass the phone and save the doctor an additional interruption.

Nurse's Tips for Calling the Doctor

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