On Waiting….and waiting

My pet peeve is waiting, particularly at the doctor’s office.  It’s like an appointment is a mere suggestion, instead of a time when the doctor and the patient will actually connect.  How many times have you walked into a waiting room and it is filled to capacity?  Now you know that all of those people could not have an appointment at the same time.  So you try to figure out how long the longest patient has been waiting.  I don’t know about you, but I get a pain in my head when I hear that that the longest waiting patient has been waiting over an hour.  You can go to the receptionist and ask about the wait time, but usually everyone else in the room has already done this, so prepare to have your head snapped off.

Last week I had a doctors appointment.  There was no one in the waiting room.  I was surprised, but I falsely took this for a good sign.  Although my appointment was at 2, it was 2:30 before I was summoned to the examining room.  So far, I had not seen a soul leaving, and since I could see down the hall behind the door, no one moving anywhere.  But back to me.  I was deposited into a room where a Physician’s Assistant dutifully typed my information into a laptop and took my vitals.  Having found that I was still alive, I was led to another examining room.  Since this was a gynecologist, I expected to be told to change into the gown…. but no.  I was left sitting there for another half hour.  I did see the doctor walk down the hall, but that was it.  He finally came in and proceeded to ask me all the same questions that the physician’s assistant had dutifully recorded. I was tempted to comment on his bright orange shirt and matching bow time, but it was all business and soon we were onto the exam.  The sum total of this visit — 2 HOURS!!  And I never did see another patient.

I have noticed that doctor’s office will play with your mind.  After you have sat in the waiting room with the other patients for a while, you are then summoned and the staff takes your vitals.  Sometimes I have been returned to the waiting room, but they must have figured out that this only irritates patients more.  Instead they take you to an examining room and you think to yourself that you are finally making progress.  The door is closed and when you look around, you see there are magazines in the examining room.  Hmmm, someone thought that you might be spending more time here, so they left reading material. Not a good sign.  I think there is a minimum wait for 20 minutes in the examining room.  I was once in an examining room for so long, I honestly thought they had forgotten about me, freezing my butt off in a paper gown.  Did they go home?  I stuck my head out of the examining room to make sure that I didn’t get locked in for the night!

Yesterday I accompanied my husband to his eye exam.  This was supposed to be a short visit, yet we spent 20 minutes in the waiting room and another 30 waiting for the Dr. to show up in the examining room.  Our total – 1 Hour, for a “short” appointment.  The only thing that was short was the time he saw the doctor – that was less than 5 minutes.

I understand that there emergencies; but when you have a doctor that is consistently late there can’t be that many emergencies.  It makes me think that one of two things – that the office staff has no idea how to run a schedule, or that the doctor is so obsessed with money, he is double or triple scheduling patients.  As if the patients time is not valuable. I mean, what could patients  possibly have to do rather than sitting around a waiting room for the doctors convenience?  I have, at times, left an appointment.  I think 15 minutes past my scheduled time is reasonable.  I don’t leave quietly, without comment.  I let the office staff know I am leaving and why; that my time is just as valuable as the doctor’s. Have I ever gotten a call back or an apology?  Hell no!  It’s as though I have broken some unbreakable rule.  The staff is insulted that I would dare question the wait.  How obnoxious!

At this point you are probably wondering whether I ever  speak to the doctor about the wait, given it is his practice.  Well, I have, but I have never gotten much more than “sorry about that” or “I’m here now!”  (and if you are having a procedure, you may want to think carefully about this, because pain is a great equalizer).  One time I was seeing an orthopedist.  I waited one hour in the waiting room, and another hour in the examining room.  So you can imagine how I was feeling when one of his Fellows came in the door and asked me how it was going.  Well, I told him and he jumped back like a scaled cat.  He got the doctor immediately, but the doctor was considerably calmer and didn’t say a word while I let him know what I thought about the wait.

If I ever find a doctor that runs his practice on time, I  would be so grateful.  Even my dermatologist runs late and I actually like him.

Until next time, Elsie






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