Overheard: Waiting at the doctor's office
August 10th, 2012
02:21 PM ET

Overheard: Waiting at the doctor's office

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

CNN contributor Dr. Anthony Youn hit a nerve with his recent post, "Long wait at the doctor's office? Blame the patients." Youn describes three common scenarios in which patients can cause a doctor to run behind schedule: the patient being late themselves, medical emergencies and then what Youn calls, "Oh, by the ways..." in which a patient brings up a complex medical issue at the end of an appointment.

Many doctors and medical professionals weighed in, supporting Youn. They said doctors should take the time they need to provide proper care - even if it means pushing back a few appointments. A few added their own reasons why doctors can run late.

Every day I have at LEAST one patient make me late for the next. Patients show up late, early, wrong day, etc. My treatment time will vary based on how well or poorly the person is doing that day - their emotional status, talkativity, etc. Health care is far more complex than most people realize.

The "oh by the way" is the bane of a physician's existence! That alone can add 30 minutes to a visit. And once you are behind a half hour, then you are behind a half hour for the rest of the day!

I work at a large hospital and there are days where up to 50% of our patients do not show up for their appointments. We therefore double book many appointment slots. We have people who have failed [to make] dozens of appointments and still just call for another. Either they do not realize they are contributing to the problem as well as taking up valuable appointment times or they just do not care.

As a busy physician I can tell you that a big reason that patients end up waiting in doctors' offices has to do with the fact that there is a physician shortage in this country and it is only going to get worse moving forward.

Another point I'd make is that many of us (myself included) are salaried. I don't get extra money by seeing more patients or by doing more procedures. And if I'm running late, I will have to stay until 6, 7 or 8 p.m. finishing my notes. I'd MUCH rather be on time.

Yes, we may be late, but when I've got a scheduled 30 minute appointment with 45-year-old mother of two and I have to tell her (and her husband) that she's got stage IV lung cancer with brain, liver and bone metastasis ... that she'll likely be dead within 3 months regardless, that her children will grow up without a mother, that she's unlikely to get adequate hospice care because she doesn't have comprehensive enough health insurance and she has a (understandable) breakdown in my office ... Will you still think I'm rude for being late?

Patients responded as well, saying that being late is simply rude - especially if it's due to overbooking, other patients' lateness or inefficient staff.

My doctor used to do some double booking, just like the airlines, to defend against no-shows. Long wait times were business as usual, both in the waiting room and in the treatment rooms, until she lost a few patients because of it. The best advice this doc gave in this article was to find another doctor if you're badly treated. It made my doctor clean up her act.

Patients who are late should go to the back of the line. Period.

Doctors should have some time set aside for patients who are actually sick. I called my (former) doctor when I awakened with eyes swollen shut from poison ivy. The desk told me he had no appointments for a week. I had to go to the emergency room instead. If a doctor cannot see you when you are sick, what the devil is the use of having a doctor?

I once sat in an exam room in a thin gown for two hours while I listened to the doctor say she was going to lunch. Then I heard her come back and gossip for another 30 minutes. I was on my way out the door when she finally came in to see me. She just couldn't understand why I was so upset.

If the doctor's office is running an hour or two behind schedule, a courtesy call to the scheduled patient would go a long way to resolve the issue. It's no-brainer stuff like this that makes me wonder about the medical profession's professionalism.

Other patients chimed in asking us all to be a bit more, well, patient.

I no longer arrive at my primary care doctor's office on time for an appointment. There is no need to because he always runs about an hour late. I wouldn't have it any other way. He listens to what you say (and many times, I believe, to what you don't say) before making his diagnosis. He care about his patients, and this is what matters.

Eric Slyter
I think the best remedy for the problem is simple: patients need more patience, and physicians need an equal amount of understanding, as long as their work ethic is already strong. Sometimes, lines just can't be avoided. Plain and simple.

I am not going to moan and groan if I have to wait - that is the price you pay to see a medical professional. Bring a book, and sit back and relax, and be thankful you can even be in a waiting room waiting to see a doctor. A lot of people do not have that luxury.

The issue in medicine today is that patients see themselves as consumers of a service and, as paying customers, feel like they can demand what they feel they have paid for and are entitled to receive. Which is all fine and good, except that medicine is inexact and messy. And you share your caregivers with other customers demanding the same thing for themselves. Doctors are way underpaid for what they deal with from their "customers."

My OBGYN is a specialist and after four miscarriages I don't want to see anyone else. I'm more than happy to wait while he's behind because he likes to be in all his patients' deliveries if he can. He also takes a lot of time with each person and treats you like you are the only person having problems. He never rushes you out or makes you feel like a burden. I'd sit all day and wait for service like that.

Do you think your doctor needs to step up his or her game when it comes to running behind schedule? Has your doctor's office added incentives or penalties for patients to be on time? Or are you content to sit and wait if your physician is helping out someone else? Tell us in the comments below.

soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. star

    It does irk me when the rare time I am five minutes late they tell me that I have to be rescheduled, yet I have NEVER waited less than half an hour in the waiting room and half an hour in the examining room for the doctor. I understand the occasional to even frequent waits of varying degrees, but at this place it is every single time and about the same amount of time, which tells me it is less the sudden "oh by the way" delay and more the overbook and who cares about the peon patient waiting delay. I do find it generally disrespectful. I also hate, hate, hate that you can never get in with your doctor when you are sick!!!! That is so common now, and so mind boggling!!!
    My pediatrician when my kids were young was great. He had a one hour walk in clinic at 8 and 1, kept the morning free for sick same day or next day appts, and was great about the classic pediatrician bane of "oh, while I am here, Doc, can you look at my other child..." by pleasantly saying he was sorry but he was running behind and to schedule an appt for that child at the front desk. I rarely waited more than ten minutes in the waiting room or examining room before being seen, which was such a blessing with a writhing, feverish, screaming or vomiting child!!!!!

    August 10, 2012 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • onlyaname

      sounds like it is your doctor office that is the problem not all of them, you had a good one once time to go look for another one. though i know insurance issues make it hard.

      August 10, 2012 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
    • teds

      I sat in one office, appointment at 10 AM. At noon, staff broke for lunch. At one PM, I asked about it, was told they were doing the "best they can". My conversation was overheard, a man asked me about it, seems HIS appointment was at ten also. So was the other two women sitting there.
      EVERYONE in that room was scheduled for 10 AM, just the way that Doctor worked.
      I got up and walked out, would you believe I go a bill in the mail for a missed appointment, and demanding my insurance info?
      They didn't get it and didn't get paid.

      October 16, 2015 at 14:09 | Report abuse |
  2. Michele528

    As a provider, I am salaried, so there is no incentive to double book and cram as many patients as possible into the day.
    I run on time and work very hard to avoid patients waiting. The most common reason to wait, the patient before you was late or you were very early. If I am giving bad news, I book an appropriate amount of time, I do not try to hurry through.

    I do not go to my personal doctor and arrive late. If I am kept waiting too long, I leave and reschedule. There is a reason we book appointments and don't have "cattle calls" for a first come first serve basis of treatment.

    It is about respect. Respect for my time, respect for your time. I apologize profusely if I run late due to a prior patient being late. I will instruct staff to reschedule late patients.

    August 10, 2012 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kathy

      Michele, re-scheduling is a fair compromise and benefits everyone. If one is on time for an appointment, they should be able to expect that waiting time is minimal – it is unfair for people to 'show up' at their convenience and expect everyone else to be 'okay' with late schedules. It is also unfair for physicians to have to work long hours because people are inconsiderately late.

      August 12, 2012 at 10:48 | Report abuse |
    • Lauren O'Connell


      Your passion and respect for patients times and needs is very admirable. Patients often feel discouraged leaving a doctors appointment feeling rushed or with unanswered questions. I work for DocASAP.com which is an online scheduling service for patients. We display provider profiles online where doctors can post available appointment times that patients may book. This reduces the stress of waiting for an appointment as well as creates flow and efficiency in the office.

      Definitely check it out! And thanks again for the post, truly enjoyed it.


      August 14, 2012 at 11:00 | Report abuse |
  3. Jenjen

    I always have to wait when I go see my psychiatrist. Usually 20-40 minutes past my appointment time. Does this bother me? No, because I am fortunate enough to have found one of the good psychiatrist's there are available. He takes his time with me so I understand that his other patients deserve the same. There is such a shortage of psychiatrist's in the country right now, I am very thankful to have one who I have been seeing since 2004.

    August 10, 2012 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ercin

    Here's the thing that has happened to me. It takes me 20 minutes to get to the doctor. I call five minutes before I'm out the door. Is she on time. Yes. She is on time. I get there 10 minutes early. Is she on time still? yes. You're next.

    2 hours later, they wonder why I'm fuming mad. Maybe it's because you already rescheduled this appointment and it's our first OB appointment and I rearranged my schedule already and I still have to go back to work. You want to reschedule me, again, b/c you screwed up and double booked two new OB patients in the time before me. And now, you're wondering why I'm mad?

    I love my doctor. I hate her staff. I've made it very clear her staff is the problem, not her.

    August 10, 2012 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • student

      If Possible I would find a new OB. That's not acceptable.

      August 12, 2012 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
  5. JLH

    One major illness pulled me out of my full-time teaching job into part-time, and as a result I no longer have medical insurance. I'd be grateful to see any doctor ... even one who runs late.

    August 10, 2012 at 22:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • student

      Employment linked health care makes no sense. And Cobra is limited to 18th months and extremely expensive. That's why we need a medicare or all scheme. Or at least allow temporarily infirmed/disabled people to get on Medicare. Instead of just for people with a permenent disability and even than they have to wait like 2 years or something for Medicare.

      We all pay into it, why can't we use it if we get cancer or something and have to lose our job?

      August 12, 2012 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
    • Timmy Suckle

      I kissed my way up to VP at a health insurance company. Now I take over $500,000 of your health care dollars for NO VALUE ADDED to your health care. And that’s just me. Now think about how many other VPs, Directors, Managers, etc. are at my company alone. Now multiply that by thousands of others at hundreds of other health insurance companies. From 10 to 25% of your health care dollars go towards administration that adds NO VALUE to your health care. But my company’s PAC dollars will continue to fool you little people into thinking that a single payer system will be bad. Little people like you are so easy to fool. Little people also don’t realize that a single payer system is the ONLY system that would allow little people (as an entire country) to negotiate better health care prices. Little people don’t realize that the Medical Cartels already know that. And that is the reason why the Medical Cartels spend so much PAC money from the hospitals and doctors lobbying against a single payer system. Some little people say that a single payer system would cost you little people more. But if that were true, then wouldn’t the hospitals and doctors WANT that extra money? Yes they would. So why do the Medical Cartels lobby against a single payer system? It’s because the Medical Cartels know it would allow little people to negotiate better health care prices. And that’s what the Medical Cartels are afraid of. Period.
      But us big wigs at insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacy companies don’t ever need to worry about health care no matter what it costs. We get our health care paid for one way or another by you little people. And we get the little people that work at our companies to contribute to our PACs. And us big wigs say it’s to protect the little peoples’ jobs. But in reality it would be in the little peoples’ best interest to NOT contribute to the PAC. Again, little people are so easy to be fooled. I won’t ever have to worry about losing my job with so many little people being brain washed by the Medical Cartels’ PAC money. Not only that, the Medical Cartels’ PAC money is used to elect so many republicans that will never allow a single payer system. Republicans have always fought against any meaningful health care reform. But that’s what our Medical Cartels’ PACs pay them for. Politicians can be bought so easily.
      Pretty soon the only people that will be able to afford health care is us big wigs. And that’s the way it should be. We don’t want you little people using up the resources when we need them. And once again, I thank you little people for capping my SS tax at the $106,800 level. Now I only pay 1.3% SS tax and you little people pay 6.2%. Also, thank you for extending my tax breaks. I’m using the extra money on my vacation houses.

      August 13, 2012 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • Lizzie

      Timmy Suckle, everone pays the same % on SS and Medicare, unless you are self employed then you pay both your part and the employers part, apparently you pay neither.

      August 16, 2012 at 12:12 | Report abuse |
    • NOT

      Lizzie – Ummmm. No they don't. The rich people only pay the same percent UP TO $106,800. It's capped. Then they pay no more SS for the year. Thus effectively reducing the overall rate of their income for the year. Look it up.

      August 17, 2012 at 09:28 | Report abuse |
  6. Kathy

    As long as monetary gain takes precedence over quality patient care, there will be a break in trust between doctor and patient. Consistently hearing media stories of doctors taking pharmaceutical kick-backs, performing unnecessary surgeries, letting needed surgeries (gall bladder) wait until it becomes an emergency, refusing to see emergency patients because the pay is too low at local hospitals, etc.. does not help the doctor/patient relationship in terms of trust. I know I question everything a doctor tells me – is this really for my benefit or is this a way for the doctor to make money? Health care is not about health anymore, it is a big money machine for politicians, insurance companies, physicians and attorneys and drug companies. When there is no trust, people are not as willing or tolerant of long waits.

    August 12, 2012 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • student

      A little cynical are we? By the way, only very top docs, mainly in academia get get backs from Big Pharm. They get them for ghost writing studies among other things. Not your family physician. Unless you consider a pen, a cookie or a note pad "a kickback."

      I don't know what you mean by "performing unnecessary surgeries?" Do you mean like make a medical mistake? Like a wrong side surgery? If you mean actually, knowing performing unnecessary surgeries, that's a major violation of a hypocratic oath and you should report them. Sometimes a doctor may think the surgery is necessary but another person might disagree, that's why you need a second opinion.

      I have never heard of doctors waiting until a "needed surgery becomes an emergency" Before operating? Unless you are talking about patients opting not to have surgery because it is too costly, until they have to. Or taking a wait and see approach and having an unexpected poor development. That doesn't make any sense and is in direct conflict with the previous statement.

      August 12, 2012 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
  7. Mekila Nakeni

    Hello All
    First I am responding to the above student's valid question, "I don't know what you mean by "performing unnecessary surgeries?". I used to work for a major insurance company, which required us to take weeks of all-day courses on fraudulent tactics used regularly by doctors.

    Here's one example: some surgeries are considered "preventive"; it can't be proved whether or not they were necessary, because no one can prove what would have happened, had the procedure NOT been done.

    Last year my Dad had an angiogram and a stent put in by his cardiologist. A stent is a PREVENTATIVE measure used when an artery is narrowed, PARTIALLY clogged. This year he had to have an emergency quadruple bypass. A cardiologist does not perform surgeries this invasive; that requires a different specialist.

    After surgery, my father mentioned the stent to his surgeon. The surgeon and a few other present doctors looked at each other and laughed. The surgeon said there is a common joke among surgeons about cardiologists: they will always look for any excuse to perform a stent operation.

    It's the only way they can make real money. A cardiologist can't perform a more invasive surgery, such as a bypass. They do less major, preventive surgeries, such as angiograms and stents; therefore, they do as many as they can get away with. Doctor's know how to write up their notes in the right way to look good to the insurance companies; also, they depend on the fact that their judgement calls cannot be proved right or wrong.

    If your doctor gives you a stent, and then you never have a heart attack, who can prove that it was or wasn't because of the stent. If you receive a stent and later DO have a heart attack, that still doesn't negate the "judgement call" of the cardiologist. The stent was supposedly a valid ATTEMPT to prevent such, and his judgement call was based on what he knew AT THE TIME.

    An angiogram is also considered a less invasive surgery. A cardiologist can probably get away with doing as many of these as he or she wants. If a patient reports any kind of a problem, it's always better to "err on the side of caution" during the diagnostic process.

    This is one example of MANY which can SOMETIMES be an unnecessary surgery. In my father's case, the cardiologist, upon discovering 4 partially blocked arteries, maybe could have immediately referred my father to another practice for a more serious procedure; but then, he would have only gotten paid for the VISIT. He knew my dad was going to end up needing a bypass, but in the meantime, he knew that he could make some money off of the situation as well.

    August 12, 2012 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mekila Nakeni

    Ok, my 2nd posting is regarding the excessive waiting time of patients'.

    Number one, as Americans, we have no idea how good we have it compared to the majority of the world. In less-developed countries, a person may have to undress and be initially examined right in the waiting room in front of everyone else. Medical care is looked at as a priveledge, not a right, and the patients consider themselves extremely fortunate to receive it at all.

    My second point is this: every time I visit my doctor, whom I have been seeing five years, I almost always wait at least one to two hours. It is well worth-it to me; I know that Dr. Greg Sullivan is one of the few honest doctors with integrity left. I will gladly wait two hours or more, knowing that I can trust this person to do what is best for me, regardless of how much or little he makes from it. The integrity and character of this particular doctor is rare; he is a fellow church member. When I desperately needed help, but had no insurance or money, he only charged me $25 per visit for 3 years, and helped me get samples or cheaper medicine whenever he could. He saved my life, literally, but made almost no money for doing so.

    I am in no way implying that all doctors should be expected to do anything for free, or to take less than what is fair for their services. My main point is that it is SO incredibly rare to find an honest doctor, who truly has your best interest in mind, and who also bases his or her decisions on what is best for the patient (rather than which course of action will make the most money), that if you find one, don't leave that doctor for anything!

    August 12, 2012 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. TX Mom

    Seems interesting to me that Physicians are quick to double book to account for no-shows, but won't build time into the day to deal with the "by the ways" and issues they know will inevitably pop up. I'm fine with waiting for an occasional emergency, but I don't have time to spend half a day in a waiting room. I have a full time job and 2 kids, and have to take off of work to get to the Dr. I should be able to be seen for a 2pm appt without fear of not being able to pick up my kids by 5 because of it. I shouldn't need to plan for a half day out of work for an 8am check up. While I expect a short wait is inevitable, they have gotten out of hand!

    August 13, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jersey Mom

    There have been times when I was five minutes late and had to reschedule my appointment, but usually when I call ahead of time and make the front desk aware that I'm running late and arrive within the estimated time frame (usually within 20 mins after appt) I can be seen still.

    But as far as waiting, I'm ALWAYS waiting. I was told a rumor about it having something to do with the type of insurance each patient is using. Especially in waiting rooms at hospitals.

    I only complain when it is an ill visit for my child, especially if I arrive on time. But if I have to be on time regardless of what's going on around me and in my life, why cant the doctor?

    August 13, 2012 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. SengHee Tan

    Delays are inevitable. The doctors are right and the patients (who are not late) are also right.

    I have delayed my doctors in the past. I went in with a minor complaint and my good doctor found something else that needed attention. I have brought my aged mother to the doctors often and she often go beyond the allocated half hour. We definitely appreciate those kind doctors who refused to rush.

    It is definitely not fun to be stuck in a doctor's office for an hour or two. My wife's gynaecologist of twenty years, has delays of three hours frequently. She is not going to change doctor anytime soon.

    A reader above mentioned about not getting to see his doctor when he is ill. Most of us would prefer to see our regular doctor. If my doctor and I are working on an ongoing case, and I wake up one morning to notice that something is not right, I definitley hope his office is not going to tell me that they cannot fit in me for another two weeks. Fortunately, my past doctors had always found a way to fit me in. I had to wait but he did squeeze me in.

    1. Let delayed patients wait in comfort, at home or at their office, as a courtesy, will help.
    2. Operate a virtual walk-in queue in parallel to an appointment system. Appointment preferred, walk-in welcome.

    Disclosure: I'm the CEO of the company that developed the Qender Mobile Queue app. The mention of our solution is to a show a real and very cheap solution is available for the patients and doctors who have iPhones and iPads today.

    The proposed solutions above can be implemented with a simple app called Qender Mobile Queue. Patients always use for free. Monthly plans for the doctor's office starts at US$10 per month to operate the queue. It works with iPhone and iPad now. Unfortunately, it will not help those who prefer not to use a mobile phone or has a basic phone.

    Qender is a virtual queue. That means the doctor's queue status can be seen from 5 miles away. A patient who is sick in the morning can remotely take a queue number from his home or office if it is near enough and then make his way to the doctor's office closer to his turn. The doctor office will be of course ping him ahead of time as well.

    More information is available from our website.

    August 14, 2012 at 19:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Lizzie

    Thank you Mr.President, because of the changes in pay to my primary provider I have to wait on average one hour before I see his physician assistance in the last few visits I have not laid eyes on the doctor, he has to double up on his mostly Medicare and Medicaid patients to make a go of it. I just wonder how much longer he will be in business and will there be any providers for us Medicare and Medicaid receiptians left, or do all of us have to visit the emergency room wait for hours to receive care. Great Natl.Healthcare, European style.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NOT

      Wake up Lizzie. You will be old some day. You will need medical care too. Should we just kill the old people and poor people? You know.....the GOP way.

      August 17, 2012 at 09:32 | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    As a provider, I find it funny that people will spend the day at the mall waiting on line for the latest ipad, video game, black friday sales etc. but when it comes to the one single essential thing in life, your health, suddenly waiting is a problem. Patient care is not something you receive off an assembly line. I have patients that require five minutes, others thirty. It all comes down to priority and health needs to be EVERYBODY'S first priority! I respect everyone's time and that's why if a patient requires more of it from me to understand a disease process then I give them more. This may subsequently lead to getting backed up. If you were being given a life altering, or worse yet, a terminal diagnosis, would you want me to rush you just to stay on time. Healthcare is a privilege, not a right. We have it good here yet we abuse our bodies, show up late or not at all for appointments and wait until problems (heart disease, obesity, diabetes etc.) arise, then we complain that we wait too long. If we adopted healthier lifestyles, maybe we wouldn't need to be at the doctors office so often and by extension we wouldn't need to wait. Just my opinion. By the way, I'm also a patient and yes I've waited over an hour to be seen. It makes for great reading time!

    August 16, 2012 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NOT

      Healthcare SHOULD be a right. But I guess according to you, only the rich people should have health care.

      August 17, 2012 at 09:34 | Report abuse |
  14. Dena

    My previous doctor had a very generous "late" policy. Ridiculously so, in fact. At my final visit I was "next up" when some woman walked in the door 45 minutes late–and they took her before me! I complained about it, but this was in Miami and I was the only American in the building. Everyone else was on Cuban time, so this behavior was considered perfectly acceptable. (Fortunately a few months later I moved back to the United States.)

    August 16, 2012 at 23:10 | Report abuse | Reply
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    August 31, 2012 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Rhon

    I think people need to be open minded to doctors. Anyone with a doctor friend or family member see how this profession is being robbed from all the benefits. The doctors I know barely have time for lunch, are on call for the rest of their life and often take charts and work home. They dont have weekends off,cant have a union and do not have the concept of overtime as most other professions do. Add the fact that administrators(aka dead weight) are squeezing doctors out of private practice and insurances are decreasing reimbursements then you can understand why doctors have to see so many in a given hour to make ends meat! Remember doctors are small business owners that employ a huge amount of people. That costs overhead. If you are concerned about the wait, go over to your local pharmacy pseudoclinic and describe your complex problem which most likley be misdiagnosed. This is not to say that doctors should be immune from efficiency, but for one time Give them a break!

    August 31, 2012 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Arthur M.

    Has anyone ever had to wait over an hour? I have – at least a couple times. I'll tell you first, that I am a very patient person and believe in giving anyone the chance to explain a situation, in this case why the extra lengthy wait. But, when no one comes out to at least explain anything, it gets a little annoying. I think most people would appreciate that small courtesy. But, when a patient like myself who is always on time for every appointment....I expect the same courtesy from my doctor, it's not asking a lot. The first ridiculous wait I ever had was 1 and a half hours and recently 1 hour & 40 minutes, in this instance I asked one of the staff is my doctor even in? She replied "yes" and I waited a little longer, then left. But, when I have been seen by my doctor, the visits lasts maybe only 15 – 20 minutes! Go figure!

    September 30, 2012 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Kerri

    I very often wait 30 minutes in the waiting room and then 30 minutes in the actual exam room. It's expected and I don't mind. But today when I showed up 15 minutes late, the receptionist turned me away and said I would need to reschedule! I cannot tell you how embarrassing that was. There were two other patients in the waiting room and I would have been happy to go to the "back of the line". After much consideration, I have decided to change doctors after 20+ plus years. I have noticed in recent years, her staff was short and rude. And her bedside manner was rushed. She says the same thing every time! And I can hear her saying the same things to other patients. Like a script. I am tired of feeling like cattle! In addiiton, their appointment confirmation is now some kind of robo-call.. not even a real person! And Rhon I do not feel sorry for doctors. They chose their professions just like I did.! Except, the get paid ALOT more.

    October 10, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Jim

    Thank you for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting
    for your next write ups thanks once again.


    October 14, 2012 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Reginald

    I regret medical offices have become as bad as airlines, deliberately overbooking their schedules, knowing they're going to get some cancellations, because what is important to them is being able to bill for every minute of the day. Medical offices do not give a damn about their patients' time. The time of the patient is worth nothing as far as the medical office is concerned. The only thing worth anything is their time, and whether they can bill for it. Orthopedists are the worst, telling you you have an appointment, when in fact what you have is a summons to appear at a cattle call with dozens of other patients, and you will be gotten to whenever the office feels like it. If that is an hour after your appointed time, too damn bad. Go somewhere else if you don't like it, except that everywhere else you could go is following the same practice.

    On the other hand, have an appointment at the end of the day, and if you are 5 minutes late, out the door goes the doctor to play golf, and screw you. Make another appointment.

    December 13, 2012 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Peter Taylor

    I do not wait for more than ten minutes at ANY appointment. If the doctor / dentist / businessman or whoever is more than ten minutes late for an appointment, they are obviously too busy to see me and my withdrawal should help to remedy the problem by making the next person wait less than ten minutes. Many appointments are just excuses for things that could be discussed by email or phone, as I have discovered on numerous occasions when the entire 'meeting' has been disposed of by one of these methods of communication after I have got up and walked out.

    If anyone takes longer than ten minutes to attend an appointment on three occasions, I arrange to see someone who is less busy.

    January 14, 2013 at 03:04 | Report abuse | Reply
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  25. Brittany

    I used to get so frustrated having to wait to see a doctor. At least, until I worked for one. There is no chatting, gossiping, or playing around. A lot of times, there are only partial lunch breaks and nearly every night, we're there late. A HUGE factor in this is just bad luck. Say our first patient is late. The next patient isn't scheduled for another ten minutes, and had not shown up yet. I cannot "move them to the back of the line" because doc needs to start clinic asap to at least try to start on time.
    So, the patient is ten minutes late for a 20 min appt, I start rooming them, and all of their meds have changed. This takes extra time to update. Now, the patients heart rate is off. Quick consult with doc- patient needs an ECG. I rush off to grab the machine and perform the ECG, doc is trying to catch up on an inbox full of patient questions while I do this.
    Now, appointment time is well past "over". Doc is just now going in with patient, who is following up on results, and now has very abnormal ECG results to discuss. I'm on the phone with either the hospital or a cardiology office at this point, or adding stat labs on.
    Whoops! Didn't go tell next patient about the delay!
    And now we're two or three appointments behind at the start of the day.
    We've also had this issue with psych patients. if a patient comes in with SI or is crying uncontrollably, that visit is going to take a while, as it should.
    So how is it the receptionists fault for scheduling these patients in a regular 20 min slot, when it was the patient who told them" I need to just follow up on results" but has other issues going on?
    Also, before ANYONE is rescheduled for being overly late, we have to ask the doctor first.

    December 3, 2013 at 01:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Brittany

    I used to get so frustrated having to wait to see a doctor. At least, until I worked for one. There is no chatting, gossiping, or playing around. A lot of times, there are only partial lunch breaks and nearly every night, we're there late. A HUGE factor in this is just bad luck. Say our first patient is late. The next patient isn't scheduled for another ten minutes, and had not shown up yet. I cannot "move them to the back of the line" because doc needs to start clinic asap to at least try to start on time.
    So, the patient is ten minutes late for a 20 min appt, I start rooming them, and all of their meds have changed. This takes extra time to update. Now, the patients heart rate is off. Quick consult with doc- patient needs an ECG. I rush off to grab the machine and perform the ECG, doc is trying to catch up on an inbox full of patient questions while I do this.
    Now, appointment time is well past "over". Doc is just now going in with patient, who is following up on results, and now has very abnormal ECG results to discuss. I'm on the phone with either the hospital or a cardiology office at this point, or adding stat labs on.
    Whoops! Didn't go tell next patient about the delay!
    And now we're two or three appointments behind at the start of the day.
    We've also had this issue with psych patients. if a patient comes in with SI or is crying uncontrollably, that visit is going to take a while, as it should.
    So how is it the receptionists fault for scheduling these patients in a regular 20 min slot, when it was the patient who told them" I need to just follow up on results" but has other issues going on?
    Also, before ANYONE is rescheduled for being overly late, we have to ask the doctor first. But everyone blames the staff.
    If you consistently show up to appointments late, you will find that the doctor will be less and less lenient with you.
    We make every effort possible to stay on time, reply to patient messages, etc, and I expect our patients to do their part as well.
    If you have a ton of issues going on, please ask for a longer appointment time.
    If you are not going to make it to your appointment, cancel early. This will make room for our patients who are sick.
    If you are sick, please call IN THE MORNING. I can't tell you how many people wait to call until after lunch, and that opening we had in the morning had already passed.
    please know what medications you are taking, and which ones you aren't.

    December 3, 2013 at 02:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Anonymous

    I had a friend whose elderly mother had to go to urgent care for a serious illness and waited almost 2 hours before being seen by someone. There was people in the waiting room that were either sick and a lower priority and those who were faking illnesses to get out of school and work. Those who are faking illness just to get out of something are wasting the doctors and everyone else's time and that should not be allowed. What if his mother's illness got worse?
    People who are faking illness and injury should have to compensate the doctor and the other people for being a pure waste of time.

    December 21, 2013 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Inot Lenob

      There was a time when cancer was a death sentence, mental illness was attributed to sorcery and smoking was healthy.
      Pray tell, how can you tell that anyone is "faking illness and injury" unless you follow them around for hours to verify that belief? My back is shot, I have good days and bad days but I push on, want to tell me I'm faking it?
      I have a coworker that is claiming workers comp for a knee injury, he's milking the situation or is he? I haven't stalked him to know.
      I was just reading an article linking fungal agents in the brain to Alzheimer's. Dementia used to be grandma is just a little "funny in the head". Are all the people that suffered from this dreaded ailment "fakers"?
      Have a little compassion.

      October 16, 2015 at 12:08 | Report abuse |
  28. cate

    My brother is a cancer patient at MGH, we drive two hours to get there and wait to see the Doctor for over two hours every time. I have watch people walking in and out and we just sit there. I heard the staff talking about double booking patients, its horrible. Last week we waited 4 hours for five min. visit, after two hours today we just walked out. Should we be looking at other Hospitals for care

    June 9, 2014 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. anarchivist9

    I don't go to the doctor anymore because of the long wait times. I had a doctor I liked, but could no longer tolerate the 3 hour average wait just to see him for 15 minutes. I get that emergencies happen and that more time needs to be spent with some patients than others, but when such a long wait becomes par for the course, something has gone wrong. I have tried different strategies to mitigate the long wait times. When I booked the first appointment of the day (at 8:00 a.m.), I arrived on time only to be told that the doctor doesn't arrive until 10:00 a.m. – they just booked patients that early so that patients are ready for the doctor when he arrives. I have tried calling in advance of my appointment to find out if the doctor is on schedule only to be told that it doesn't matter if the doctor is on schedule or not, if I did not show up to my appointment on time, it would be automatically cancelled.

    I have tried to find another doctor, but most are either not taking new patients or booking new patients 3-4 months out.

    My healthcare now is limited to urgent care centers only when I have been ill for a number of days.

    October 16, 2015 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
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  31. Supplement Advisor

    The doctors plays important role in our society...more reason why patients need to encourage these individual to give their best service. Getting behind schedule for appointment is very discouraging especially when you have lots of patients waiting on queue

    December 16, 2016 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
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  36. Sher

    I have only been late to a doctor's appointment two times in my life. The second time was the other day when I was refused a visit.
    NOW on the other hand ... I have likely spent hundreds of hours waiting on doctors who ran about one hour or more behind on their appointments.
    To think that a doctor cannot overlook ONE late appointment is outrageous.
    Maybe I should do like a businessman I know and start sending a bill to the late doctors?

    April 12, 2017 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Eric Ebacher

    Personally, I think anyone who has an emergency (e.g., a severely ill or injured patient) should be sent straight to urgent care or an emergency room and doctor's offices need to give those who are scheduled for regular appointments (e.g. physicals) sole priority over anyone who has emergencies. When people who have serious emergencies come into a doctor's office or some type of clinic without a scheduled appointment, it backs doctors up and puts scheduled patients on the back-burner, where those that have emergencies should be.

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  48. Maria

    Funny that one MD says they are saleried and all the rest I see explain short visits and overbooking by saying they get paid per patient seen. I make 13 an hour with a Master's and still work many late hours to do the job right. Walking into my teen age daughter's neurology exam she has waited in pain for 6 months for and reading the chart as you walk in is not ok. I pretty much take her now becuase her Dr. won't refill her meds. ( which I hate...all those pills) if we don't go. She needs an mri yearly to track a growth in her brain and I need the Dr. for that too. If it wasn't for that I wouldn't bother since the Dr. dosen't prepare ahead and or listen and make it super clear they don't care. We need to fix this system so there are enough good MD available. Pay them less but make education and other costs of being a Dr. less. Then we would get those that want the job, not the perks. Like with teachers and social workers.

    March 5, 2019 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
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  50. Jeff

    I am seeing a retinal surgeon, ore and post-op and follow up appointments. He seems competent and I think my procedure went well. That said, the fastest I have gotten called back to an exam room is 30 minutes. Usually more that an hour. I had an appointment at 745 and thought that would be quick but no it was after 9 when I was finally called back. Then it is at least 30 minutes of pure wait time in the exam room. I don’t think I have seen the Doctor for more than three minutes on any given visit. Usually he asks if I have any questions with the door open and one foot in the hallway

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