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by Abigail Van Buren

Decorum in Doctor's Office Seems to Be in Short Supply

DEAR ABBY: I work in a medical office and would like your help in asking patients when entering the clinic to please respect the privacy of the people ahead of them and not peer over their shoulders when they sign in. It is not only rude, but also a violation of HIPAA privacy laws.

Another problem -- and forgive me, because this is gross -- is that when we tell a patient the amount of the co-pay, she will reach into her bra and pull out WET cash and expect us to take it from her! It literally makes me sick, and I'd rather not touch it, but at the same time, customer service is No. 1 in our clinic and with me, too, so I take it and then spend the rest of the day wanting to vomit. -- SICK IN THE DR.'S OFFICE

DEAR SICK: You are right; the behavior you have described is rude. The same thing happens when customers swipe their debit/credit cards in the checkout line at the supermarket, and you should handle it the way many checkers do. Say to the patient who is second in line, "Please stand back." You don't have to be nasty, just firm.

As to those women (I assume it's women) who treat their brassiere cups like breast pockets, you have two choices. Either slip on a pair of latex gloves when you take the cash, or whip out the hand sanitizer afterward. That's what it's for.