Intended for healthcare professionals


The telephone rings…

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 12 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c861
  1. Vasandhara Mahendrayogam, GP specialist trainee year 1, Colchester Specialist Training Programme, Colchester
  1. vasmahendra{at}

    The telephone call begins innocuously enough: “Hello, can I speak to Mr Smith please?” Now Mr Smith may or may not be there, but generally the reply is “Who’s calling?”

    This is usually followed by an awkward silence as I am still new to this game. I then say something like, “I’m sorry, but I need to speak to Mr Smith directly.”

    I wait for the response, and then it begins. They want to know who I am and why I want to speak to their husband/wife/daughter/son. As a family member, they feel that they have a right to know. I try to deflect …

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