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The doctor will see you ... eventually

December 20, 2011 - Ron Deuter
How long is too long to wait inside a doctor’s office?

It kind of goes without saying that a trip to a doctor’s office hardly ever occurs on schedule. You make an appointment, show up a few minutes early and typically have to endure to two periods of waiting — in the lobby and in the exam room.

But how long should you have to wait without being notified by reception or nurse staff that a doctor is really behind schedule?

My wife and I recently waited 45 minutes in an exam room without so much as a peep from staff that the doctor was behind.

I finally went out into the hallway and asked why there was such a delay and how much longer we could expect to wait.

I was told our appointment was next and the doctor would be in a few more minutes. Another 15 minutes elapsed. I finally went back into the hall, visibly angry, and barked at a nurse to reschedule us. She assured me the doctor would be right in, and he finally was.

The doctor, who we like very much, was very apologetic and tried to explain that things happen and its very easy to get behind — even going as far to blame his reception staff for over-scheduling him.

No offense doc, but duh.

The fact that a doctor gets tied up is not why I was so angry. What riled me was that there was no communication until I finally went out in the hall to press the issue.

Time in my family, with three little kids and two parents working full-time, is extremely scarce and valuable. Most days, we’re literally scheduled to the minute.

I understand that sometimes the doctor gets held up by a patient at the last second, and it’s hard to determine just how much longer the preceding appointment will last. But the fact that our doc was almost an hour behind tells me the staff knew there was no chance of him making our 2:15.

In a case like that, either tell us before we go into the room, or offer an approximate wait time. Give us the chance to make a decision whether to wait or reschedule.

Not doing so is simply rude and portrays your office and staff as severely incompetent.

Even if you don’t know exactly how much longer the doctor will be, come tell us that within 5-10 minutes of our missed time. At least that shows an effort on your part to acknowledge the situation and show respect for our time.

I’d bet any money if I, as a patient, showed up 45 minutes late without calling ahead, my appointment would be scratched without so much as a phone call.

How about some common courtesy here?

 
 

 

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