What Pisses Me Off: The doctor’s waiting room! 400

What pisses me off


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I have just walked out on the second health care appointment in two days. It is NOT because I have a beef with the care that I receive. I have great respect for the professionals I have chosen. It is just that I have had it with medical office wait time.  I am rebelling! I am standing my ground! I am finding my voice! I am saying NO!

Why is it that their time is more important than mine? Why? Because healthcare workers are in a noble service to all mankind? Okay, but cocky! Because healthcare can involve emergencies that require patience of all those waiting as the situation is attended to? True – but these situations do not happen enough to excuse chronic late appointments. Because, in the crazy economic environment of healthcare, they are forced to see more and more patients in less and less time? Yeah, yeah, I know…stop your bitching!

NO! Your time is NOT more important than my time. I say this with some background in the field. I have been a nurse for close to 40 years. I understand the processes.

I absolutely loathe going to a health care appointment. I detest being on the other side of healthcare. Why? Because of the consistent impersonal approach to very personal issues. And because of the general lack of empathy or common courtesy.

It starts with the very first step into the waiting room. In one of my professional’s offices, this is a somewhat typical visit scenario: I walk in to an area reminiscent of the Department of Transport with its waiting queue – a highly impersonal space.

As every eye of every waiting patient is upon me, I make my way up to the reception desk. I sign-in on the clipboard posted precariously on the narrow ledge, then make my way to a standard office chair. The piles of old magazines are left relatively untouched as everyone is staring at the screen of their smartphone, checking mail, playing Candy Crush, posting on Facebook.

The sound of the window sliding across the runner interrupts our uncomfortable silence. Then a disembodied hand quickly snatches the clipboard, notes the patient arrival, returns the clipboard to its perch, then slides the glass back. I am briefly reminded of Thing from the old television show The Addams Family.

And then I wait. And then I wait some more. And then I use my smartphone to Google typical wait times for medical visits. And then I get annoyed and I feel disrepected! I cull myself from the herd and knock on the gatekeeper’s window. I say “My appointment was at 2. What is the problem?” The two keepers of the schedule look confused. What did I mean? “It is now 2:30, is there a problem?” I try again. “Oh, no there is no problem…let me go check”. Within the minute the medical assistant is calling my name from the side door. And then I wait. The sliding glass opens again and a front office staff member peers out of the window like the clerk at a fast-food restaurant drive-thru, calls my name and hands me a “Review of Systems” form. “Nothing has changed” I say. “We still need you to complete this”. “But I was here yesterday,” I snort. She smiles. I irritably complete the form, striking one line down the NO columns instead of checking each one (what a rebel I am!).

I am now beyond the waiting room. I have entered the inner sanctum, the secret areas behind the frosted glass windows, with its standardised “system”. It doesn’t matter what I am there for, or the fact that I was there just the day before, the system starts by getting me weighed (UGH!), then marched into a treatment room where the medical assistant sits at a desk…this is important…with her back to me. She lobs questions backward as she completes the standard paper form. “No, my meds have not changed since I was here yesterday,” I say to her spine. Then she turns to me, attempts to stick a long thermometer probe directly into my mouth (which I take from her and put it in myself), fills out the form; takes my pulse (which by now is angrily racing), fills out the form; takes my BP and fills out the form. “Dr. So-and-So will be here shortly,” she informs me as she leaves me to the cool room with the overly large supply of old magazines.

However, Dr. So-and-So is not there shortly. Was the overloaded magazine pile a harbinger?

Yesterday I was in the waiting room for 25 minutes past my appointment time. No one told me that my physician was running late. No one offered to reschedule in case the added minutes might have posed a problem for me. My waiting room delay was followed by 30 minutes in the treatment room. No one checked on me. No one peeked their head in to say “Sorry for the delay, she will be with you in just a couple more minutes.” So, I walked out.

Today, at another office, when checking in, the staff member took an inordinate amount of time clicking through the schedule on her computer. Then she said “Will you excuse me for just a minute? I need to check something”. Upon her return to her station, she said “I just wanted to make sure it was okay to double book So-and-So” “Why double-book? I have had this appointment scheduled for three months,” I query.  “Well, you see, we have a new computer system…yada, yada, yada”. At no time was I told that because of the “double-booking” that I would have a bit of a wait, although, smart girl that I am, I did anticipate one. No one offered to reschedule me.

After 45 minutes (15 minutes of normal anticipated time, followed by 30 minutes of okay, they had a computer issue so I will be patient time), I returned to the front desk and asked how much longer. “They say it should only be another 30 minutes” ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? “You see, we have a new computer system…yada, yada, yada”  “Yes, I was told that and because of that, I have patiently waited 45 minutes from my scheduled time. An additional 30 minutes is outrageous.”  So…NO.

Let the revolution begin!


Originally published here

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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. Perhaps the Dr is taking time with patients that need extra time due to certain illnesses or emergencies. Im sure the Dr would do the same for all the patients

  2. I waited over 2 hours to see a new doctor, it saved my life, without seeing this guy, I wouldn’t have lasted another month. NO complaints from me about waiting times..

  3. 4.30 appt. Called at 4 to c if he was on time n they said yes. Saw him at 7.45.
    Walk out no way because people come from all over Australia to c him.
    Reception staff are hopeless

  4. Try going to medical centre that doesn’t make appointments and wait to see a specific, very popular doctor. Yes, you get fed up but who knows what emergencies have come up or which patient has needed extra time even if you do have an appointment time. I know I’ve been grateful when my doctor has spent a bit more time with me than just pushing me out the door so he can keep to his schedule.

    14 REPLY
    • You think the same as I do , one Dr I always waited
      2-3 hours but she never hurried anyone was a great Dr.

    • It’s the difference between fast medicine ( not able to be thorough ) and slower medicine ( takes longer but the doctor gives you first class attention )

    • Try living in the country or a regional area whee you have to make an appointment at least 7 days ahead even if you are sick now. By the time you get to the doctor you are either better or dead.

    • Heather, not sure about what fast and slow medicine mean exactly but perhaps a doctor can allocate more time to each appointment, then when he does get a ‘fast’ patient, he can allocate more time to a ‘slow’ patient.
      Having to sit for hours in a waiting room, full of coughing sneezing patients does not make for good health and wellbeing especially if you have only gone in there to get a prescription renewal and are required to see a doctor first.
      The least they can do its let us know how far behind the doctor is, and then we can decide to stay or come back later.

    • Yes Jean Prince, I waited two weeks to see my doctor, then had to wait another two weeks for test results because he had gone on leave. I’d like to say I was feeling better, but the symptoms worsened. Ironically, I had put off going to the doctor because I didn’t think I could sit in the waiting room for long periods, sometimes two hours over the appointment time. The very best of country living 🙁

    • Fast medicine – you are in and out ” on time ” so you are happy – but has Doctor had time to be thorough ? We sometimes ask the impossible

      I also think we are so used to pushing a button for everything we forget that quality takes time

      You can go to Doctors who will see you in ten minutes though

    • Things haven’t changed much….back in the 70’s I worked for a couple of doctors. They had this (dragon) lady office manager who would always put her friends at the front of the line, then leave the resulting fallout from irate patients for me to sort. Saying that, have you ever had to go to a hospital for a specialist’s appointment and you end up waiting hours? As to ‘rebelling’, do you really think that they will care if you walk out in protest? I’m surprised they didn’t charge you for those appointments….I’m sure mine would!

    • I moved to the country a year ago. Cannot believe how bad the service is. Country people really get a raw deal I feel. I had to get a chest Xray recently for suspected pneumonia. I was told my urgent request would be seen to in a week!! I ended up driving all the way to the City where I just walked in! Thank God I was still well enough to do it!

    • Most of the time, I ring and ask how his schedule is going and work on that. How hard, not at all.

    • I found in a walk in practice in Norwood SA that we were seen far quicker than any booked appointment in WA. We were very impressed and the place was packed and I was extremely impressed with the medical care there.

    • I wouldn’t attend a medical centre like this I have back and leg problems so I can not sit in those waiting room chairs for more than half an hour without a lot of pain and I also suffer from overheating so I have to wait outside because it is too hot inside in winter.

  5. Go to another Dr. Not all Drs. keep you waiting. I think it is crap and poor time management.

    2 REPLY
    • That’s not always possible.
      I live in a town with one medical centre. We don’t have a choice. The nearest next surgery is 50klms away and we don’t have public transport.
      So it’s not always as simple as “go to another doctor “..

    • Totally agree Margaret, staff have yur number so they could always ring. Of course having said that there is going to be emergencies but some Doctors do it ALL the time.

  6. I have lived in small shires a lot and it is very common for an aunt or friend of the receptionist to be put in in front of other people, happens a lot really.

  7. Even after phoning ahead, I have been kept waiting over an hour, but what frustrates me more is that even if you book the first appointment of the day at 8am, the dr rarely gets there until at least 8.40., so if you have a late morning appt be prepared for a l-o-n-g wait.

    4 REPLY
    • You will find the doctor may do hospital rounds or age home rounds. I’m sure they not sitting at home enjoying brekky.

    • If that is the case, and doctors have to do rounds, start his/her appointment times later. Where is common sense these days, Emergencies are completely different although we should be told, so we can choose whether to stay or re schedule. Common courtesy I would say. We are people, not objects or $$ signs.

    • Not so in this case, receptionist told me the dr prefers having several patients in the waiting room to get the ‘flow’ going. No early hospital rounds for her!

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