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Thread: How long a wait is acceptable at a doctor's office?

  1. #16
    A lot of the older doctors around here complain about being forced to electronic medical records. What it really does is force the doctors into group practices because the cost of electronic records can be shared across the whole practice. These older doctors just don't want to join a group - they want to keep working as a sole practitioner and doing things the way they always have done it.

    But electronic medical records are valuable. If you go to an ER that shares medical records with your doctor, the ER people can see your history and the results of any tests or imaging you may have had. And when you go home, your primary care can see what was done in the ER. This also works for specialists doctors you might see who share medical records with your primary doc.

    If a doc sells his/her practice to a corporation and becomes an employee they should not be surprised that they lose the autonomy they had earlier. If they join a group of doctors, they only have to answer to the other doctors in the group.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  2. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick Skelly View Post
    I dont think you are being unreasonable Edwin. Your time is money. You are the customer. A doctor isnt (usually) doing you a favor seeing you - he's being paid for his time. Specialists can be different but there's a limit there too IMO,
    Fred
    Fred,
    Thank you, I think you paraphrased exactly how I felt. In fact, I kept thinking about the golden rule and how I would never be late or keep a customer waiting for me in my business. If I did, they would have every right to be disenchanted. At the very least, if I had an unforeseen problem, I would call my customer right away and communicate, not just leave them waiting for me. I understand that delays can happen, but there is always a way to be courteous and professional when they do. In other words, demonstrate to the other person that the inconvenience to them matters and that their time is no less valuable than yours.

    One of the many failings of the health care system is that the patient is just not treated with the respect of a customer, by the medical providers or the insurance companies. It is one of very few industries where the customer is forced to conform to the convenience of the vendors who would not have an income but for the patient(s). It's as though every patient is disposable because there are so many. Could you imagine Marriott running their hotels like that, or a good restaurant making patrons wait for an hour when they show up for their reservation on time?

    I know I'm ranting a bit, but I just think people deserve better, especially those that are really sick. The only satisfied people I ever meet are those that have found a one-off exceptional physician office. I've never met anyone who felt that the industry at large puts the patient first. Even in political circles, I've never heard a politician or candidate argue the system is great just the way it is. That really says something.

    Sorry, but even if a person is a highly educated, licensed professional, the golden rule still applies IMO.

  3. #18
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    Edwin, your wait was too long without an explainations. I have to see my regular doc every 90 days. If there is going to be additional wait time the staff tells me. It averages about 15 minutes in the waiting room and 10 in the exam with a nurse taking vitals. My cardio doc is about the same. I always look at the number of seats in the waiting room when going to a specialist. If it's a single doc and they have 30 chairs in the waiting room your in for a long wait. I waited 1 1/2 hours at one specialist and walked out. They actually sent me a bill. I didn't call his office about it I called the hospital he worked out of and complained it was handled immediately. Medical care has gotten to the point of operating like a retail business, run as many as you can thru and collect. If you get the wrong stuff in the bag, tough luck. The lawyers like it tho, easy pay out to sue doctors and hospitals. Oh and the VA 3 to 4 hours and maybe not that day. I hope that gets better. That's after waiting 3 months to get an appointment. Rant over.
    Jim
    Last edited by James Pallas; 05-23-2019 at 7:07 AM.

  4. #19
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    Speaking as the son of a doctor who used to travel the country lecturing on practice management I can only say that the percentage of well-run offices is the minority. Doctors practice medicine not office management. If a doctor lets their wife or niece or an unqualified professional act as their office manager (and the doctor is not often qualified to determine if one is qualified) you have a poorly run practice. If it is a larger operation, the doctor has even less control over how the patients are treated other than when they are directly interacting with them.

    You are correct in that a doctor (or a medical center) is just like a plumber or an application developer; they provide a service. You choose the level of quality and service you want to pay for. "Managed" health care is a confusing term. It means that YOU manage your care. Us older folks grew up with house calls and doctors in their own office buildings. We also used to pay less for coffee. That was then, this is now. Get involved, take action, DO NOT go back to a medical professional you were not satisfied with. Just like at the woodworking stores, let your wallet speak for you.

    *** rant off ***
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 05-23-2019 at 8:44 AM.
    She said “How many woodworking tools do you need?”
    I said “Why? Do you know someone who is selling some?”


  5. #20
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    I think you waited a reasonable time period.
    I get that doctors can get more engaged in one case due to circumstances, but an hour is more than that. An hour is a symptom of poor appointment management.
    I've also seen how some patients can really burn a doctors time up being overly needy, which affects the scheduling.That's another side of the coin.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  6. #21
    FWIW, I recently went to my doctor and he asked me go go online (dont recall just where) and rate them. He said insurance companies were starting to look at patient ratings as a factor in doctor contracts.

    (But I have heard second hand that in some practices, the initial stack of papers to sign says just the opposite - that you agree you will NOT post online ratings.)
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walter Plummer View Post
    The game here in Virginia is they have the nurse bring you in and take all your vitals, ask what you are here for, put you in an exam room and then tell you the doctor will be "right in". Never been quicker than 15 minutes but they count it as on time.
    That's how our primary care practice works, but the "most" I've ever waited was about 10 minutes between the initial setup stuff by the nurse and when my PA comes in to chat about whatever I'm there for.

    OP, I forgot to mention in my previous post that you are not being unreasonable in your concern about having to wait for so long...especially if it's always a repeat performance. Yes, sometimes "stuff happens", but if the behavior is consistent, then it's a problem in their system and practice processes.
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 05-23-2019 at 9:38 AM.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  8. #23
    As a medical professional (not humans) who sees patients daily I do have knowledge of what can happen, and yes, backups can occur, but often its simply office mismanagement, ie too many appointments/too close together. But in a corporate owned practice, the office may have no control over the appointment policies. In most corporate practices in my profession, Drs are subject to periodic "production reviews".

    You haven't seen anything yet if/when we go to government healthcare.

    My SIL in Canada told me its 3 months out to get a dermatologist appt. She asked what if she had a very bad rash & couldn't wait that long? They told her go to the ER.

    There is a movie I highly recommend everyone watch called "Escape Fire - The fight save healthcare". It will really open your eyes to the reality of medicine.
    Last edited by Robert Engel; 05-23-2019 at 10:43 AM.

  9. #24
    We have been very lucky in this regard. Our PCP is always on time or early. The dentist, the same. Our pain doctor is busy but generally 15 minutes has been our worst experience. The ophthalmologist can keep us waiting up to 30 minutes but is usually faster.

    I have had strong words with our former pain doctor who kept us waiting for 45 minutes or more and he advised me to find another doctor. My wife was the one with the pain or I would have taken him up on it in a flash.

    Waiting an hour or more is inexcusable.
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

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  10. #25
    James Pallas

    As a volunteer at the Manchester NH VA Medical Center I would tell you to document and then complain. If the problem was in urgent care then you are at the mercy of the quantity of patients ahead of you since the workload is unpredictable. If it was a scheduled appointment then complain in person or via email to the Patient Advocate. Manchester had serious problems 4 years ago. The Director, Asst Director, Chief of Staff , and the Nursing head were all canned. We are now rated in the top ten in the country for wait times, employee morale has improved, and most importantly patients are seen as customers and are satisfied. It was all a question of leadership. Monthly "town meetings" are held for veterans and staff and no topic is taboo. I was at one yesterday afternoon.
    Last edited by Dave Anderson NH; 05-23-2019 at 3:11 PM.
    Dave Anderson
    Chester Toolworks LLC
    Chester, NH

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Anderson NH View Post
    James Pallas

    As a volunteer at the Manchester NH VA Medical Center I would tell you to document and then complain. If the problem was in urgent care then you are at the mercy of the quantity of patients ahead of you since the workload is unpredictable. If it was a scheduled appointment then complain in person or via email to the Patient Advocate. Manchester had serious problems 4 years ago. The Director, Asst Director, Chief of Staff , and the Nursing head were all canned. We are now rated in the top ten in the country for wait times, employee morale has improved, and most importantly patients are seen as customers and are satisfied. It was all a question of leadership. Monthly "town meetings" are held for veterans and staff and o topic is taboo. I was at one yesterday afternoon.
    I'm well aware that things are getting better. Some places better than others. I'm grateful that things are better where you are. Thank you for volunteering it is a great service on your part.
    Jim

  12. #27
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    FWIW, I recently went to my doctor and he asked me go go online (dont recall just where) and rate them. He said insurance companies were starting to look at patient ratings as a factor in doctor contracts.
    My healthcare provider has "satisfaction surveys" after almost every visit. They arrive via email and can be answered or ignored.

    Another point of interest that came to mind is they are a "not for profit" healthcare provider.

    My recollection is the healthcare market took a turn for the worse when "for profit" entities became involved.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  13. #28
    None, I don't go.

  14. #29
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    years ago, I saw a specialist who was chronically late. In retrospect, why I put up with him as long as I did is a mystery. I certainly wouldn't today.
    The final straw for me was one appointment.

    Appt was for 1PM. His receptionist (his wife and a dreadful person) told me to start calling in at 2PM and she would tell me when to show up.
    I showed up at 4PM and didn't see the doctor till 9PM.

    This was a urologist and the culture was almost comical. The chairs in his waiting room were hard wood. So you had all these guys (me included) with enlarged prostates trying to get comfortable.
    One guy studied Masonic stuff in the waiting room. he told me that this was the only place he studied and he was approaching some higher degree because of all the time he put in.
    Another guy's wife would drop him off and then go to a movie across the road. After the movie, she would call. Have you seen the doctor? No. So she would see another movie.

    After the 9PM fiasco, I had a talk with my GP. He was aghast. He talked with other patients of his that went to the same urologist and moved them all to another one.

    So, my first appointment with the new guy. I get there and right away it's an upgrade.
    -- The staff was nice
    -- The chairs were heavenly soft
    -- The doctor saw me just 10 minutes after the appt time and they apologized all over the place

    All this is to make two points:
    1. Don't assume that you have to take their crap. Walking out is fine. Compaining is fine. Talking to your family physician is even better. In other words, don't be like me.
    2. It can be much better.

    All that said, my family physician was always late. I forgave him be cause he liked to actually talk with his patients. I knew that and tried to score appointments early in the day. But he really valued interaction with his patients and sometimes it took extra time to figure out what was really wrong. I was one of his very first patients when he got his license and I was one of his last patients before he retired. A good doctor and a good man (still).

  15. I once waited gladly 2 hours to see a doctor. I did not have medical insurance at the time. The doctor had an office that was open 6 days a week, closed Mondays. open from noon until he saw the last patient. He did not accept insurance and charged $20 a visit. For many of us in the community, he was a Godsend. It was first come first serve. Any other office in the area would have wanted $150.00

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