Practice Management Q&A

June 1, 2007

Office smoking ban; displaying vacation photos

A smoking ban at your practice?

Several employees smoke (in the parking lot) during their breaks and return to the office smelling of cigarette smoke. I'm concerned about the effects of secondhand smoke on patients with respiratory problems. I also feel it's a bad reflection on our office. Can I establish a policy to prohibit employee smoking during the workday? What should it say?

If smoke clinging to your staffers threatens the health of any of your patients, you have a good business reason to ban employee smoking. Your nonsmoking policy could say "In the interests of health and the comfort of all employees and patients, smoking is not permitted at any time during the workday." Make sure you explain the medical reasons for the policy and why it's important to preserve your practice's image as a place that takes its healthcare mission seriously.

But before implementing your new policy, you should consider its impact on employee relations. You might even lose some staff members who may be unable or unwilling to comply with your smoke free policy. Consider offering to pay for smoking cessation programs or aids for employees who want to quit.

Displaying vacation photos in your office

My wife has taken some great photos of me skiing in various parts of the world. I'd like to get them framed and hang them in the office. My office manager thinks patients might resent this display. Is she right?

She's probably overreacting. As long as the photos are basically landscapes, showing you skiing in different locales, you're likely to get a good reaction. Patients are generally interested in things that make their doctors seem human, like their hobbies, vacations, or kids.

However, if your patients have any reason to "resent" your skiing- maybe you're unavailable for extended periods while on ski vacations-keep those photos at home in your den.

In this issue, the answers to our readers' questions were provided by: Judy Bee, http://www.ppgconsulting.com, La Jolla, CA; Jack Rue Coleman, CHBC, Dental-Medical Economics, Dallas, TX; Barbara Fick, Assoc. Professor, Notre Dame Law School, Notre Dame, IN.

Do you have a practice management question that may be stumping other doctors, too? Write: PMQA Editor, Medical Economics, 123 Tice Blvd., Suite 300, Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677-7664, or send an e-mail to mepractice@advanstar.com (please include your regular postal address). Sorry, but we're not able to answer readers individually.