Dr. Edward Ratner says there's proper etiquette to house calls. He even teaches it to medical students at the University of Minnesota. Many of the tips, he tells his students, could apply to any doctor-patient visit.

• Knock on the door (loudly).

• Introduce yourself.

• Thank the patient (by last name) for the opportunity to visit.

• Ask where you should sit.

• Try to sit as close as possible.

• Explain the reason for the visit.

• Tell the patient how much time you have.

• Talk a little about yourself, so patients feel comfortable opening up.

• Look at their medications.

•  Look in the refrigerator.

•  Look at their feet.