Telephone Policies

We are committed to helping you walk through problems over the phone. During the day, we can help you determine if your child needs to be seen in the office or just needs some TLC at home. After hours, a doctor is always available by phone to get you to the ER quickly for true emergencies, and to save you a trip when you don’t need to go.

Tips for calling us:

  • For truly life-threatening emergencies, call 911 first!
  • For poisonings, call Middle Tennessee Poison Center at (800) 288-9999.
  • For other concerns regarding sick or injured children, call us first. If it is an emergency, you can press “0” at the telephone menu. Tell the individual who takes your call, “This is an emergency.” Do not let our staff put you on hold.
  • We do prioritize phone calls according to the nature of the call. If you are asked to wait on hold or are not called back immediately, please be patient. Another family may have called in with an emergency.
  • If you leave a message on our voicemail system, please listen closely to the instructions. Messages can be misrouted when callers don’t follow the recorded directions.
  • We cannot be responsible for returning phone calls in a timely manner when the number is busy for more than 20 minutes at a time, rings without connecting to an answering machine or voicemail, or is disconnected.
  • Our phones are generally busiest early in the mornings and in the late afternoon. Contacting us during our “off-peak” hours is more likely to result in quicker service.
  • If we’re busy, you may leave a voicemail message for us. We do prioritize our callback order, returning calls about sick children first. Less urgent phone calls (refill requests, referral requests, or non-urgent health questions) will be returned by the end of the day. If your sick child call isn’t returned within 30 minutes, please call us back.
  • For non-urgent questions or requests, we encourage you to contact us by phone during office hours or through our patient portal at any time. We respond to most portal requests by the end of the next business day.

Your telephone calls

Sick child calls: When calling about your sick child, have your child nearby in case you need to check something about his or her condition. Also, have a pen and paper handy to take down instructions. Your call might be handled by one of our doctors or telephone nurses, depending on who is available. After listening to your concerns and asking additional questions, the doctor or nurse will either suggest making an appointment to evaluate your child, or recommend an at-home course of treatment. Our telephone nurses are specially trained to make decisions about which children need to be seen in the office and how to give care at home. Our doctors review all the advice that our nurses give and are available if the nurses can’t help you.

Prescription refill calls: When calling for a prescription refill, please have ready the name of the medication, dosage and dosing instructions, as well as your preferred pharmacy. Please allow 24 hours for prescription refills—plan ahead so you don’t run out of important medicines. We cannot refill medications we did not prescribe or medications for patients we have never seen or have not seen in the past year. We don’t prescribe new medications over the phone.

Paperwork request calls: When calling for paperwork (shot records, physical forms, etc.), please have ready the address or fax number to which you would like the records sent. Please allow three working days for paperwork requests to be completed. In some cases, your paperwork cannot be sent unless you sign and file a written consent with us (we’ll let you know if this is the case).

Referral requests: We are pleased to provide comprehensive health care for children. However, occasionally we will recommend a referral to a specialist. In this case, we will obtain the necessary authorization from your insurance company and set up the referral for you. This can sometimes take several days to complete. We cannot authorize referrals for patients we have never seen or for problems that we have never discussed or treated in our office. (We like to send a letter of introduction to a specialist describing the child’s problem, but we can’t provide this service unless we’ve discussed it together recently.) Also, because of insurance rules, we cannot give retroactive referrals for consultations which one of our providers did not initially recommend.

Doctor calls: If you would like to speak with your doctor when he or she is seeing patients or making hospital rounds, you may leave a message with our staff. Please specify what the call is regarding in general, so the doctor can have the information ready when calling you back. Our doctors try to return calls between 12:00 and 1:00 pm and between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. In some instances, our nurse or receptionist might return your call. Please leave your phone line open and disable call blocking!

Night time and weekend calls: We want to keep our line open at night for urgent calls. Please limit night time and Sunday calls to emergencies, urgent problems that can’t wait, or if you are truly worried about something.

Tips on calling us after hours:

Call our main number at (931) 707-8700. You will be connected to our answering service. Leave a message for the on-call doctor or nurse for Plateau Pediatrics.

Please be patient waiting for a call back. Sometimes we get several pages at once.

If possible, please call from a land line, rather than a cell phone. It is difficult to keep a good connection on a cell phone.

Even if your regular doctor isn’t the one on call, the on-call doctor can still help you. So all our doctors can have some evenings off, vacations, etc., we rotate night telephone call between Dr. Robert Berman, Dr. Suzanne Berman, and Dr. Christine Reed. Some calls may be returned by our on-call registered nurses. The nurses have immediate access to the on-call physician, if needed.