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Chapter Overview
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Going to the doctor's office can be an emotional and some-times even a frightening event for many people. The office staff can do much to make the entry into the medical environment easier and less intimidating. This chapter describes the patient reception area. As you look at the reception area and patient bathrooms through the eyes of patient needs, you begin to see ways to make the rooms both inviting and functional. Addition-ally, you will learn about the special needs of disabled patients. Well-planned and pleasant surroundings can do much to set the stage for a successful interaction between the patient and the doctor and other medical staff.


  • First Impressions
  • The Importance of Cleanliness
  • The Physical Components
  • Keeping Patients Occupied and Informed
  • Patients With Special Needs

Learning Outcomes

After completing Chapter 13, you will be able to:

 13.1 Identify the elements that are important in a patient reception area.
 13.2 Discuss ways to determine what furniture is necessary for a patient reception area and how it should be arranged.
 13.3 List the housekeeping tasks and equipment needed for this area of the office.
 13.4 Summarize the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations that pertain to a patient reception area.
 13.5 List the physical components associated with a comfortable and accessible patient reception area.
 13.6 List the physical components associated with a safe and secure patient reception area.
 13.7 List the types of reading material appropriate to a patient reception area.
 13.8 Describe how modifications to a reception area can accommodate patients with special needs.
 13.9 Identify special situations that can affect the arrangement of a reception area.


The patient reception area is where patients are received be-fore they are seen by the physician. The area's appearance creates an immediate and lasting impression on patients. Patients may notice elements such as temperature, lighting, decor, and cleanliness, all of which influence their perception of the practice. Offices with well-planned, pleasant reception areas provide a comfortable experience for waiting patients. Important elements include easy access from the outside, safety measures that meet federal requirements, and appropriate furnishings, reading material, and other entertainment to make the wait as enjoyable as possible. Special accommodations for patients who are young, elderly, differently abled, and from diverse cultural back-grounds help create a welcoming environment.

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