Science & Education
There are two sources of error in this case. The first is the response of the physician interpreting the exam, and the second is the reality that the referring office is not sending the comparison exams in a timely manner. Unless both errors are remedied, the problem will not be fixed over the long term. Answer A (be quiet and refrain from taking action, since this matter is not your responsibility) is the least confrontational option, but it does nothing to prevent the problem from happening again. Answer B (say nothing to your partner, but express your concerns to a more senior partner about the phone behavior you witnessed) is acceptable but undermines the trust that one partner should have with another partner. Unless your partner knows that you feel the response was inappropriate, he/she will not modify his/her behavior when you are present. In particular, if the less desired behavior appears to represent an isolated incident, peer involvement is usually less obtrusive and may be similarly effective in behavior modification as compared to intervention by a higher authority. Answer D (call the office of the referring physician, and offer an apology on behalf of your practice) may be a good marketing response but could actually exacerbate the problem of not having the comparison exams in a timely manner. Answer E (wait a few days to let the issue cool down, and then speak to your partner about your concerns about his/her phone behavior) may be acceptable if there is extreme tension and high emotions at the time of the call. However, in general, it is better to address the work problem immediately, while it is fresh in everyone’s mind. Therefore, the correct answer to Question 1 is C (speak with your partner in private as soon as possible after the call to express your concerns about his/her phone behavior, and encourage the partner to speak to the leadership of the practice regarding his/her concerns about the referring office), which is the most effective response. Encouraging your partner to approach your practice’s leadership with his/her concerns (before leadership approaches your partner) may provide the partner with a greater sense of being a stakeholder in this particular work situation.