Don't Be an Air Talker


My client was a very successful and busy physician. He thought quickly and was able to see many patients in a day. He had a large staff to help him care for all his patients.

He would come out of an exam room, face the front office area where there were five women working, and tell them what he wanted for the patient he had just seen. Then he was into the next exam room with the next patient in the blink of an eye.

There was only one problem. He never noticed that each of his employees was either talking on the phone or helping a patient. They all were busy. Many did not hear or see him. The ones who did hear him didn’t know to whom he was talking. Often, no one did what he asked.

The level of care was disintegrating as fast as his risk for malpractice was increasing. He couldn’t understand what was wrong.

I told him either to address a staff member by name or to catch her eye before barking out orders and disappearing. I also alerted each employee to watch for him when he came into their area. If he didn’t tell one of them specifically to order the test, set up an appointment with another physician or call the hospital, they could determine which one would do it.

Lesson: Make sure your staff knows who is responsible to carry out your orders, or no one will.

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