What Pisses Me Off: An open letter to my doctor 71

What pisses me off


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My last blog (What Pisses Me Off: The doctor’s waiting room) has created a bit of a stir. Comments have ranged from support to admonishment. My favorite was the disgruntled reader who reproached me for being selfish with “Mimi – pronounced ME-ME!”

While I poked some fun at the situation, there is a serious problem here! As a nurse, I have empathy with colleagues in busy practices. With all the regulations, requirements, and ever-decreasing reimbursement it is amazing that they choose to remain in the profession at all.

I am not an overly impatient person. In younger childbearing years, I never complained about the wait at my obstetrician’s office. The stork arrives at inopportune times. As a young parent, I did not grumble about the waits for the pediatrician. Heck, most of the parents there had called in because their child was ill during the night – just like me.

But I do object to wait times that can be mitigated or avoided, so…

Dear Doctor,

I am attempting to incite a revolution due to lengthy office waits. I am encouraging others to take my lead and just say NO.

Encouraging your patients to abandon their visit as a form of protest is easy. But what does that really do to you? Nothing – short of losing an insurance payment and co-pay.

What is not easy is actually getting them to do it, because it means one of 3 things. Your patient:

  1. reschedules and rolls the dice on wait time at the rescheduled visit;
  2. finds another doctor with patient-friendly systems; or
  3. forgoes their medical issue.

The result? Patients are unhappy, deserting your practice, or ignoring health concerns. You do not wish to see any of these results.

No one would have a real issue with you attending to an emergency. But how can your patients be patient if no one tells them? Communicate!

No one would really be opposed to you taking time to have a short friendly chat, to explain tests, to hold a hand after a tough diagnosis is given. In fact, I applaud and give you a standing ovation! But, instruct your scheduler to be mindful. Add time to visits with elderly patients, with friends who are also patients, and when you know you have some hard news to dispense.

Don’t insult your patients with warning signs of impending fees if your patient is late or cancels, unless you have no issue with receiving bills from your patients when you are late, or cancel.

Apologise when late. Your patients might be fuming when you arrive, but you would be amazed how a sincere regretful acknowledgement will change the tone of the visit.

Own up to your practice patterns. Always arriving late? Don’t have patients scheduled before you have time to get in and get settled. Routinely run late? Don’t schedule patients back-to-back. Please, don’t double book. When has that ever worked?

I know you must be flexible and allow ill patients to be “worked in”, so have some available quiet moments on your schedule, especially during cold/flu season. When patients arrive coughing, sneezing, and potentially infectious, please escort them to another comfortable room to sit while you work them in – or you risk having more of your patients arriving that way!

I know you have my phone number in the record. Call or text me! Let me know that you are running late. Allow me to decide if sitting in the waiting room is where I want to be.

I respect you as my doctor. I ask for the same respect as your patient.




If you could write a letter to your doctor, what would it say?

Mimi Holman

Mimi Holman is a new blogger from Jacksonville, Florida. A former small business owner in the healthcare education industry, she describes herself as a beginning lifestyle contemplator, advanced family supporter, reluctant homemaker, non-retiring under-utilised healthcare nursing professional, wanna-be globe trotter, former Candy Crush junkie, anti-ageism activist apprentice, revitalised right-sizer, and ellipsis enthusiast. She created her blog site, An Encore Life, to explore the ups and downs of life for people in or beyond their “mid-point”. At 61, Mimi shares her insights on being a “person of age” while she attempts to make sense of it all through thoughtful and often humorous posts.

  1. I am like everyone else, I get annoying at sitting in the waiting room for sometimes an hour past the time my appointment was due, but I wised up and these days I ring and ask how far behind is my doctor in his appointments, the receptionist is happy to tell you and it saves you sitting there bored and getting grumpy

  2. Surely my time is as valuable as the doctor’s? Maybe send him an invoice if you are kept waiting after the appointed time!

  3. I try to help the doctor by staying within times. I book (and pay for) a longer appointment if I think I might be longer, and I have a database system that I update or add to according to what I need to discuss. The pertinent issue has a yellow background. My doctor loves it, and Ive had specialists ask if they can keep a copy of the scaffolded document. Specialists sometimes focus only ontheir specialty, but they appreciate seeing a one page, relevant document that identifies other aspects about which they can seek further information if necessary.

  4. I asked my GP if I could buy him a watch for Christmas? He got the hint and I am usually in within ten minutes of my appointment time, regardless.

  5. Sick of it (good pun!) With all these electronics these days, why not a numbering system letting you know where you are in the queue? Even a call from the Receptionist would be a help. I’m meant to go every 2nd month (& never do my blood tests) but I only turn up a couple of times a year – I just tell the staff I take responsibility for my own health, & I do.

  6. I understand how busy you are, and why appointments run late. You didn’t know that little girl would cut herself and need stitches and extra time to soothe her pain and fear. And you couldn’t have known that dear old man was going to need arrangements made to get him to hospital or that the young newly pregnant girl would have a weeping fit and need reassurance and extra time. I’m glad you finally got to me and have time to listen to me and offer me reassurances too. Thank you for being there for us all and no, I don’t mind waiting. Thank you for your apology, but it’s not necessary.

  7. I’ve learned to ask for the first appointment of the morning or afternoon for my convenience. All of my physicians run a good practice so I rarely wait, and they don’t rush you either. They will all see me on same day notice if I need it. I would leave any practice that consistently ran late. My dentist even gives you a $20 gift card if you have to wait more than 20 minutes.

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