when patience isn’t a virtue

Today I spent 45 minutes waiting for a doctor.  First, there was the 20 minutes in the waiting room (15 of which included my scheduled appointment time).  Then another 25 in the exam room.  I told the nurse I was on a time-line and needed to leave by 11:35am.  She said OK, she apologized for the delay and admitted the doctor was running late due to double booking.  “But we are catching up”.  Um, no, you aren’t.  If I wait 45 minutes and don’t get to see a doctor because of her delays, you are not catching up.

What bothers me the most is the lack of respect and accountability from the doctor.  As a patient, I need to give 48 hours notice for cancellation.  I’m also expected to alert the office if I’m running late – traffic and what-not.  And if I’m too late, or don’t even show, they are going to bill for the appointment which you know the insurer isn’t paying for.  I get that.  I get I have a responsibility to keep my commitments and be on time.  So what about the doctor?!  Is it too unreasonable to think the front desk can let me know if the doctor is running late and how long?  Is it too much to ask I be offered to reschedule my appointment for a better time?  Is it too unrealistic to think waiting more than 60 minutes to complete an appointment is obscene? 

So how are we going to change this?  It’s not going to help when most people sit in the exam room, steaming, and go through with it anyway.  Or storm out.  Me?  I wrote a letter to office outlining why I was frustrated, that I understood my patient accountability – and I requested that the doctor’s office be accountable too.  People need to stop being afraid of doctor’s and their assumed authority and assumed power in our lives.  Even the cable people are getting better at this.  Sure, a 4-hour window isn’t great.  But it’s a window.  You know what to expect up front.  Doctors?  Wake up and hear the call.  The doctor/patient is supposed to be a mutual and respectful relationship.  I promise to tell you the truth about what’s going on with me, you trust my words.  You offer me the best treatment possible, I trust your judgement and treatment.  So let’s get it together and revise the appointment policies.  OK?!

That’s going to be my new policy, if I can’t be walking out a doctor’s office 60 minutes from my schedule appointment time – I’m leaving.  Maybe I’ll even be bold enough to send a bill for MY time wasted.  Imagine the nice sum of money you would have if you got paid for wasted time at the doctor’s office.  So – go write your own letters!

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