Waiting for the doctor….and waiting….and waiting

This one is a discussion, so please join in. If you are a doctor, your perspective would be very helpful.

Several things happened to me over the past few weeks that are related. Most of them  have  in common the fact that I was left waiting for a very long time to see a doctor for an appointment.

Before you comment, let me describe the situations and my perspective on them and then, please, let ’em roll….

Last week I had a follow-up appointment with my endocrinologist. Without going into the details about my health, let me say that I am fine.

I was taken into the examination room about 15 minutes late. I waited in there for about a half hour when I approached the nurse and mentioned that it was taking a long time. She said that the other appointment was taking longer than expected. The doctor came in 10 minutes later. That means I waited almost an hour after my appointment time to see the doctor for a 12 minute appointment. This is not the first time.

He is a GREAT doctor and I am very happy with his care, just not the wait.

Earlier this week my daughter had an appointment for a physical.

It was at 9:45 am. We arrived a few minutes early and the only person present was the receptionist. She said that the doctor usually arrives a little after 10:00 am and that she would do the eye exam and take her blood pressure and then we could sit and wait.

So we did, sit and wait, and wait and wait. Finally I asked her what “A little after 10” means. She said that some times he comes in at 10:15 and others at 10:30, depending on traffic. Who makes an appointment for a patient at a time when the doctor is not even going to be there? It’s not even like he got backed up with other patients. We were the first ones.

When he was not there at 10:15 we left. He is not a GREAT doctor and I will be happy to find another.

I took my other daughter to the dentist yesterday. We waited 20 minutes past her appointment time for them to call her. They didn’t even tell us that they were running late. We managed to figure it out!

Finally, I had an MRI scheduled a few weeks ago for my aching back. I would have been on time for the appointment if they hadn’t closed the parking garage and sent me to another location that included a long walk back to the facility.

I was 5 minutes late and they told me that I had to reschedule. Oh, the irony! Not only am I never late, but I am ALWAYS waiting for people and professionals who are.

Why is it okay to make me sit in these doctors’ offices and wait for an appointment that I  almost always arrive for on time, if not a bit early?  I’m not talking 5-10 minutes. I don’t start to fuss until it’s been at least 15. How am I supposed to honor my schedule and commitments?

Okay, now it’s time for comments. Let the discussion begin.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. boo gershun
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 18:38:00

    where’s the religious tie-in? of course it was supposed to be something about operating on jewish standard time. maybe it was implied…

    but my current pet-peeve, related but not exactly the same, is that in my newly impaired physical state, i have lots of follow-up appointments, and the dr. says to see him in 1-2 weeks but the receptionist says the first open appt, is in 3 weeks, and at a much less convenient facility. what a pain (literally.)


  2. Phyllis D.
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 22:32:24

    A few years ago, Kaiser Permanente started a campaign where if you waited longer than 15 minutes for your appointment they would reimburse you $5. The first week they implemented this campaign , coincidentially I had several appts. with various doctors. Of course they all kept me waiting and I complained. In the first week I racked up $15.00. In less than a month they dropped the costly campaign to get their staff up and running on time. It’s about five or more years later since that program disappeared and Kaiser now has an internet hotline to the doctor & you can call the Dr. and confer with him/her over the phone for advice. Waiting for me no longer is an issue. Do you think these doctors have a hugh ego as well as being a gift from G-d ? Some of them do. Not many people interview their physicians before they get their medical services. We usually get word of mouth recommendations from others who found no complaints to share about them. I’ve had to wait endlessly for appointments and get their early too, like you. I sympathize completely. Should we the patients devise a penalty for the professional who lets us down?? What would it be?


  3. Laurie Hanan
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 21:45:16

    I am not a doctor, so I can’t speak fromtht perspective. But between myself and my kids, I think we do more than our share of waiting to see doctors. Personally, I’d be completely amazed if they called me in a mere 15 minutes after my appointment time. My normal expectation is I will be called into the examinining room 1-2 hours after my appointment time. Which is not to say I will actually see the doctor any time soon after that. I have simply moved on to the next stage of my wait. Sort of like those lines at Disney World, where each time you turn a corner you think “This is it.” Only to find it’s yet another area to wait in before moving on to the next waiting area.

    A few times I thought I’d be smart and schedule a time when they could take me as the first appointment of the day. Thinking at that time the doctor will not have fallen an hour or two behind schedule. But the doctor showed up an hour or more late, because he was making his hospital rounds.

    I have found a few doctors who never seem to be in a rush when they’re with me. They sit back, chat, listen to me, convey information, even looks things up on the Internet in they don’t have the answers. I sometimes spend 45 minutes with the doctor and he never even glances at his watch. I guess this is the trade off.


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