Show and Tell Hawai'i

The waiting game: What’s up, doc?

May 29th, 2011

Have you played the waiting game in your doctor’s office?
Today’s topic has nothing to do witha show or an entertainer, or some form of entertainment.
It’s about going to your doctor’s office, only to sit and wait for 20 minutes or more, before finally getting to see him or her.
I’ve heard complaints from family and friends and that’s a red flag: everybody waits, even if you have an appointment time.
What’s up, doc?
Overbooking, causing the backup? Clock’s not working, so no one pays attention to the time?
The general scenario:
Your appointment is at 8:10 a.m., so you arrive five or 10 minutes earlier, depending on your commute. You make it there only to wait, anywhere from12 to 20 precious minutes, in the reception room. When your name is called, you are shown to the examining room, only to wait five or more minutes before the good doc enters.
Is it a practice to book two or three people per appointment time? Seems there are two or three people waiting, when you first arrive, and they methodically go into the chambers, while you wait your 20 minutes until being called.
I can understand the backup by 10:30 a.m., but early in the morning? What happens if you have a 4 p.m. slot? How many are ahead of you? How long is the wait?
I deliberately took a 1:30 p.m. appointment for another doctor, the first after his lunch hour, and I still had to wait. Twenty minutes in the reception room, another 8 to 10 minutes inside the examining room. Once, nearly an hours, since he was otherwise engaged in an unexpected surgery.
Since doctors commonly have four to six examination rooms, imagine the chain reaction: somebody else is waiting, waiting, waiting, too.
I’ve not had this kind of issue with a dental or eye visit, since there’s no intermediate waiting space, so the shuffle in and out is a lot easier and more efficient.
Have you had comparable experiences with your waiting game?
Doctors, tell us why. Please?
Patients, what’s your take on this? Do you deliberately go late, so you don’t want the extra long wait in the office? Do you simply grin and bear it? Have you switched doctors because of this?

3 Responses to “The waiting game: What’s up, doc?”

  1. Christine Smith:

    Dear Wayne,

    Funny that you should mention about waiting time in a Doctor's office. I am currently in the process of writing a brief essay regarding "Patient Care" emphasis on "Waiting Time".

    As a retired Medical Receptionist, it is very disconcerting that one has to wait without any explanation or offered a choice to leave and run errands, have lunch, or call or be called when it is your time to be seen.

    Yes, some of the time, two or three people are schedule for the same appointment time, depending upon what they are being seen for. Also, it guarantees the Doctor will have a patient (s) in the event of a no show.

    Rather than going in late, I now call to be sure of less waiting time. Or have a staff member call back to give me a heads up at least ten to fifteen minutes depending on my whereabout.

    I did at one time "grin and bear it". But don't now, as my time is just as important as the Doctor's. After all, he gets paid regardless. I didn"t and am sure lots of other patients was not paid for time missed at work.

    No, I have not had to switch Doctor, however, I wouldn't have any qualms if need be.

    The problem with Doctor's office's today, is that some Staff members just don't care about Patient Care. If they did, they would take time to check on their patients to make sure that they are comfortable or in need of anything. Most importantly acknowledge and apologize to the patient(s) for lenghty waiting time.

  2. Len Withington:

    I figured it out about 10 years ago. Patience to be a Patient. Main thing, you get the doctors full attention for your 12 minutes. They pay as you depart the office.

  3. red slider:

    Bad enough, with ordinary appointments and showing up early. Trying being a caregiver and struggling to make it on time or reschedule if you find it impossible to get your loved out the door as planned (no matter how much time you've given for leeway). You wouldn't believe the the lectures, added 'late-fees', threats of discontinuing service and such for something that any health professional should have easily understood was the result of the disease and its unscheduled demands (Alzheimers) and not the neglectful sloth of some hapless caregiver. The funniest was an appointment when I arrived and checked in 15 minutes early, then waited the 'obligatory' 45 minutes to get seen and then was berated by the physician for "being late for your appointment". Yes, I changed physicians, pronto. Who needs that?

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