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Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(6):602

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations to disclose.

Original Article: House Calls
Issue Date: April 15, 2011
Available at:

to the editor: I began general practice in 1957 in a semirural community of 7,000 citizens. The lessons I learned about making house calls in those days are just as relevant to the smart-phone–equipped physicians making house calls today.

It is important to establish good rapport with local law enforcement, so that they can be called on to provide backup for house calls made at night or in areas of uncertain safety. Police should also know what car you drive. I found it reassuring to let them know when and where I was making the house call, and about what time I should return to my home or office. I would then report the time of my return.

In addition to the list of suggested equipment mentioned in the article, I would add a flashlight that can be carried in one hand, placed on a surface near the patient, and stabilized as much as possible. Available lighting often is too poor to notice pallor and icterus. A flashlight is also helpful when climbing up and down dark stairways.

When entering a patient's home, evaluate the surroundings before deciding whether to remove your coat or keep it on. If you decide to remove it, keep it where you can see it.

Although I have retired from practice, I am grateful to the authors for the best article on the subject of house calls that I have encountered.

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This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, deputy editor.

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