Friday, July 1, 2011

Waiting for doctors (and others)


Yesterday I stumbled across this article which says doctors should pay you for wasted time waiting for them in waiting or exam rooms. I thought it had some basis because I despise tardiness (as anyone who knows me will say). Why shouldn't I be compensated if I have to sit around for hours and wait?

Then I started reading the comments which made me see the other side. Doctors are often late for a variety of legitimate reasons - many of which are beyond their control:

- A true medical emergency - should they walk away from a patient dripping blood or having a heart attack to stay on schedule? I think not.

- They are forced by their employer to schedule patients so close together that they do not have a chance of giving patients any attention before they need to rush off to their next patient.

- Patients have complicated or additional issues which require more than the scheduled amount of time. What should the doctor say? 'You have cancer but why don't you schedule another appointment and we can talk about it next time?' Sometimes they need to spend a few extra minutes with their patients.

- Patients run late. Yep, patients are not perfect so sometimes we get stuck in traffic etc.

- They have to take time from their schedule to speak with patients who call in with unexpected issues.

There are problem more issues that I can't think of right now but I am only on my first cup of coffee.

I do not agree with the article in its entirety of suggested ways to deal with waiting:

1. Send your doctor a bill - um no. And don't expect a gift if they run late.

2. Find an on-time doctor - Well, 'duh, yes'. If your doctor is chronically late, find one who isn't so over scheduled or poorly scheduled or a poor time manager that they are always late.

3. Schedule smartly - I usually try for early in the day as my theory is they don't have a chance to get behind schedule.

4. Mention the doctors in this article to your own doctor - why? What's so great about this article? Will doctors who hear their colleagues are compensating patients for keeping them waiting actually open their pockets too? Or just think their colleagues are a tad naive?

5. Blog about your doctor's lateness - I am sure the author's doctor reads her blog and will change their ways.

My basic theory on dealing with lateness (which makes me incredibly crabby) is:

People get one 'being late' per year from me. Otherwise I start with out them. The only exception is a real emergency - flat tire, etc. I do not accept reasons for lateness in that they didn't get out the door on time again. If you are chronically late, you will find you never see me because I don't wait around.

The reasons I do not tolerate lateness are:

- Your being late tells me I am not important to you. You do not value anyone else's time but your own.

- You have poor time management skills. You probably do your takes at 10pm on April 15 and pay your bills late as well. That's your problem not mine.

- Its just plain rude.

The real reason I have less tolerance for lateness is that I am not capable of standing around and waiting for people. I have a limited capacity of how long I can be out doing stuff before I get tired and have to leave. If I spend all the time I that I feel good waiting for you, I won't enjoy any of the time we are together as I will be tired and in pain.

Where I go for all my medical stuff is a nice hospital which in general runs on time, or tells you. Most departments have a sign that says if you have been waiting more than 20 minutes, please tell them and they will find out what is going on. I can live with that as I understand that a lot of the reasons behind it are beyond their control. In the meantime, if you are meeting me, don't be late.

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