The Waiting Room

I read a post on Facebook, where someone was complaining that they were in their doctor’s office and the doctor was seven minutes late for her appointment. Hearing these type of things really frustrate me. I’ve been on my fair end of long wait times, and believe me I know it sucks, but I promise you it’s just as bad on the other side. Chances are if the doctor is late for your appointment, then she is running behind in general, which ultimately means she’s going to be staying way late to finish everything up.

I understand as a patient what the waiting room feels like, and I encourage other doctors to understand too. Sitting in a waiting room can be a very anxiety-provoking experience. You’re concerned about what the doctor is going to say about your test results, or that she’s going to be upset at you for not taking your meds for the past couple days because you ran out. You’re scared that you won’t be able to express yourself or have enough time for all your questions. You may also be worried that you have to go pick up the kids, or make it to the bank, or that time is running out on your meter.

And then on top of all that stress you are sick. Your exhausted and your body hurts. The only thing you want to be doing is laying in bed, and truthfully it’s what your body should be doing. And maybe you’re hungry. God knows what happens to me when I’m “hangry”. I get dizzy, and my head hurts, and I turn into Oscar the Grouch. You need to be home, but instead you are in the office waiting for what feels like hours.

Doctors don’t like keeping patients waiting, but it happens. Maybe the patient before you came in late, or perhaps someone walked in because they were sick. Or maybe someone had a fifteen minute appointment, but it ran a little long because they had a lot of issues. Sometimes it’s a scheduling issue. Someone from another department accidentally double booked, or even worse, the administration requires time slots to be double-booked.¬†Other times we have a serious emergency where we have a patient who needs to be transferred to the ER. We’ll have to fill out transfer paperwork, update the medication and medical history lists, provide emergent treatment, and keep an eye on the patient til EMS arrives. Sometimes it’s a phone call from another doctor or family member about a patient in the hospital. I remember being locked up in my office on a twenty minute phone call like this, and when I came in to see my next patient, she accused me of sitting around on my computer in my office doing nothing.

For my patient readers, I ask you to be understanding with your doctors. It’s not an easy job, and the truth is when you are the patient who has the emergency or special situation we will give you all the time you need. And for my physician readers, we have to respect our patient’s time as well, keep them in the loop so they don’t feel forgotten,and be considerate of what they are feeling as they wait.

One thought on “The Waiting Room

  1. It is very easy to walk into a doctor’s office and be taken back immediately. Just make sure you are the sickest person in the office with something that can be immediately fatal, like a heart attack or cancer. I know because I did it once. Two doctors in one day. I walked out with a diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer. Now, aren’t you glad you can wait?

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