Patient Histories

Allergy is defined as an overreaction in some individuals by a specific defense mechanism of the body responding inappropriately to certain environmental substances and resulting in annoying and sometimes debilitating reactions. The substances to which these reactions occur are called allergens. A methodically detailed patient history is a part of any preliminary examination or interview. Often, a lengthy printed questionnaire is given to the patient prior to the first visit to be filled out at home. In some situations, patients may fill out a history, or update it, while sitting in the waiting room with clipboard in hand. Several alcoves with countertop writing surface, chair, and light may be included in or near the waiting room (Figures 4-137 and 4-138). Computers will increasingly be used for patient histories. A patient may be able to log on to a physician's Web site, answer the questions on line, and email the completed questionnaire to the physician's office where it can be downloaded into the patient's electronic medical record, if such exists. Software to handle this type of confidential information in the medical setting is already available to safeguard patients' privacy during transmission, as explained in Chapter 3. (See Figure 4-139.)

Providing carrels or alcoves in the waiting room allows patients to update information on their electronic medical record to reflect changes since their last visit. They can also be used for accessing information about allergies on the Internet; the physician may have set up on the home page icons for Web sites with the best medical resources. These carrels, if equipped with TV monitor and VCR, can also be used to view videotapes.

Frequently, a combination of staff interview and printed questionnaire will be used. In this situation, an alcove may be created off of the corridor for a number of tablet arm chairs; however, privacy must be considered and the area should be located where patients in the waiting room cannot overhear the conversation. The suite plans in aA'_n"

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