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Fam Pract Manag. 2009;16(4):27

Give your exam rooms a face-lift

Tip #1

To create an exam room that reflects my taste and personality, I commissioned murals of beaches and palm trees from a local artist.

I also have a glider chair and a second living-room type chair in the exam room. I use a stack of wicker drawers for storage and an old coffee shipping crate for an end table.

One of my patient's described it as “sitting in someone's funky living room.” I can tell you that the effect on me personally is palpable. I don't have to work in a doctor's office anymore.

Tip #2

I have snapshots of family and friends from the past 20 years hanging all over my exam room walls. The photos help patients know more about me, and they create an informal, friendly, relaxed atmosphere. My patients love it. They often ask when I'll be adding more pictures.

I don't use any professionally made photos – just simple snapshots inexpensively framed.

Tip #3

I've found that painting one wall of the room a contrasting color is not very expensive and can make a big difference. Hanging a wallpaper border where the wall meets the ceiling is another option.

Tip #4

You can go to your local Goodwill store, Salvation Army store or other thrift shop to find all kinds of pictures, paintings and wall hangings to brighten up spots on bare walls. I've found that this gives some color and a homey feeling to the exam rooms.

If you have windows in your exam rooms, the right window treatments can make the room feel warmer.

Tip #5

I ordered some reasonably priced paintings in a canvas finish from Also, has great paintings from Haiti, Cuba and Brazil. The paintings add color and personality to the rooms.

Tip #6

We hang artwork from local artists in our exam rooms as well as in our hallways, reception area and nursing area. Many of the artists are our patients. The office looks like an art gallery, and most of the pieces didn't cost us a thing.

The artists provide the paintings to us to display with the potential for selling them. If someone is interested in purchasing one, we pass along the artist's contact information. We've sold a few in the past two years. Staff, patients and visitors love it.

Simplify compliance with the Red Flags Rule

We've adopted three key identity-theft prevention policies and have written them into our Red Flags Rule binder:

  1. Ask for photo ID from all new patients and from any patient the staff doesn't recognize.

  2. Confirm signatures on request-for-records forms by comparing them to signatures on file, and document that this was done on the form. If there is no signature on file, ask the patient to come in with a photo ID to confirm his or her identity before the records will be released. (This happens rarely.)

  3. Tell pharmacies and medical supply companies that call for authorization of equipment or medications that I have not prescribed that the request has to be initiated by the patient.

Additional policies cover less common occurrences, such as patients claiming that their identity was stolen or that they were billed for services not received. Instances like these involve looking at the record to see whether there is evidence that someone other than the patient could have received those services.


Practice Pearls presents readers' advice on practice operations and patient care, along with tips drawn from the literature. Submit a pearl (250 words or less) to FPM at

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