It’s Their First Time Or It’s Going To Be A Big Baby

, , , , , | | Healthy | May 13, 2019

Several years ago I had a summer job working as a clerical officer in an NHS Hospital. One of my reception duties involved checking patients into the antenatal clinics. The receptionist explained to me that when patients arrived for the clinic I had to take their name, and if it was their first appointment, I had to write “no file” on their letter and bring it down to the nursing station. Women who had previously been to the clinic did have a file, so I had to pull out their file, check their details were correct, and bring the file down to the nursing station.

The receptionist showed me how to do the first few arrivals and then said I could take over. The next patient arrived for her antenatal appointment. I smiled at her and her husband, greeted them warmly, and the woman handed me her appointment letter. “Okay, Mrs. [Patient],” I said, trying to appear professional. “Is this your first appointment?”

The woman looked surprised and glanced down at her belly. “No…” she said. She was quite large by this stage! Her husband just smiled, clearly amused. “Oh… Sorry!” I stammered, then retrieved her file, checked her details, and asked her to take a seat in the waiting area. As she and her husband walked off, the receptionist leaned over to me. “Yeah, it’ll be obvious to you if it’s their first appointment!” she said, smiling. I apologised again, but the receptionist told me not to worry, as we all make mistakes!

The receptionist went on holiday, and I managed to cover reception surprisingly well. And during the next three antenatal clinics, I never again made the mistake of asking a woman obviously in advanced stages of pregnancy if it was her first appointment!

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