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Calling The Wrong Number Until Your Number Is Up

, , , , , , , | Healthy | September 12, 2022

I schedule referrals to my employer’s internal case management program. I am required to attempt multiple forms of contact before closing a referral for an inability to reach someone: two phone calls with a message, an electronic letter, and one or two physical letters to the person’s address. Also, if a person doesn’t show up to their scheduled appointment or cancels without rescheduling, I send them a letter asking if they still want to meet with a case manager.

I have some medical issues, one of which often causes me to sometimes say strings of numbers wildly incorrectly if I am not reading them simultaneously. Thus, I have my own phone number and extension in big, clear letters on a bright red sticky note on my phone, and I intentionally read it off when leaving it as a message to a patient.

I hear the following sorts of things dozens of times a month. 

Patient #1: “The phone number you sent in the letter was wrong; it called a restaurant! I couldn’t get ahold of you until I found your voicemail. You need to talk to whoever sends the letters!”

Me: “It’s the same number, [Patient #1]. I’m the one who sends the letters.”

Or…

Patient #2: “You gave me the wrong number in the voicemail. It called some lady in [Town] and she yelled at me.”

Me: “Oh, no! What was the number I gave you in the voicemail?”

Patient #2: “It was [my correct phone number].”

Me: “That is my phone number, [Patient #2].”

Or…

Patient #3: “I couldn’t reach you at first! I called and it never answered.”

Me: “What number did you call, [Patient #3]?”

Patient #3: “[Wildly different number]. It’s what was in the online message someone sent me.”

Me: *Checks the message* “Hmm, that’s not the number I sent you in the message.”

Or my favorite…

I call [Patient #4].

Patient #4: Finally! I’ve been calling and calling you and no one has called me back.”

I check and see that I’ve called and sent [Patient #4] several communications.

Me: “I have been trying to reach you but haven’t received any phone calls from you. What number have you been calling, my dear?”

Patient #4: “[Wildly incorrect phone number].”

Me: “Goodness, that’s not my number at all. Where did you get it from?”

Patient #4: “One of the ladies in the waiting room said it was the best number.”

Me: “Did you call it instead of the number I left for you?”

Patient #4: “Yeah! She said it was the best!”

I Googled it later. It was for a crematorium.

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