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 (694 Responses)
  1. https://www.songmanhits.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    April 27, 2021 at 06:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. realtor athol idaho

    Good post. I am dealing with some of these issues as well..


    April 27, 2021 at 21:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. houses for sale kellogg idaho


    April 27, 2021 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Norris

    What's up, this weekend is pleasant for me, as this occasion i am
    reading this enormous informative article here at my house.

    April 28, 2021 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. order generic viagra online canada

    viagra without a doctor prescription canada https://canadaviagrastore.com/ is it illegal to by viagra from canada

    April 28, 2021 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. https://www.songmanhits.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    April 29, 2021 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. chloroquine phosphate brand name

    choroquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloroquine drug class

    April 30, 2021 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. do you need prescription for canadian prescription of cialis in usa

    buy cialis online canadian https://canadacialisstore.com/ do you need prescription for canadian prescription of cialis in usa

    April 30, 2021 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. instagram takipçi satın al

    You are so cool! I do not suppose I have read a single thing like that before.
    So great to find somebody with original thoughts on this issue.
    Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that's needed on the internet, someone with some originality!

    May 1, 2021 at 18:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills

    best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ average perscription pills taken by 65 year old canadian?

    May 2, 2021 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. canadian customs pills vitamins

    canadian pharmacies ed pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian diet pills

    May 2, 2021 at 10:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. how safe and reliable are canadian cialis

    cialis canadian discounts https://canadacialisstore.com/ canadian pharmacy no perscription generic cialis

    May 2, 2021 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. erection pills

    erectile dysfunction guide https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ what erectile dysfunction solution works best

    May 2, 2021 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. avanafil

    avanafil 200 avana tabs

    May 3, 2021 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Glenn

    It's enormous that you are getting ideas from this piece of writing as well as from our dialogue made here.

    May 4, 2021 at 03:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. custom van conversion


    May 4, 2021 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Eye Glasses Near Me

    Everything is very open with a very clear description of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is very helpful. Thanks for sharing!


    May 4, 2021 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. aika online private servers

    Very nice post. I definitely appreciate this website. Continue the good work!


    May 5, 2021 at 02:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mark Page


    May 5, 2021 at 08:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Upholstery California

    Your style is unique in comparison to other people I've read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this page.


    May 5, 2021 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. aika online

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you so much, However I am going through difficulties with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having identical RSS problems? Anyone who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 5, 2021 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. quinine

    choloroquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloroquine tablet

    May 5, 2021 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. panera near me


    May 5, 2021 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. international semi truck


    May 5, 2021 at 21:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Inspection California


    May 5, 2021 at 22:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. semi trailer body shop


    May 5, 2021 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Eye Doctor Phoenix

    You have made some decent points there. I looked on the web to learn more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.


    May 6, 2021 at 00:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. locksmith Orlando

    Having read this I believed it was extremely informative. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    May 6, 2021 at 02:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. health training


    May 6, 2021 at 03:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. fire truck repair service

    Good blog you have got here.. It’s difficult to find high quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    May 6, 2021 at 07:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. ram promaster city


    May 6, 2021 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Plumbing California

    Very nice post. I certainly appreciate this site. Continue the good work!


    May 6, 2021 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. dog parks near me

    This site truly has all of the information I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 6, 2021 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. harbor freight near me

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this blog. I really hope to view the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own site now 😉


    May 6, 2021 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. rv plumbing


    May 6, 2021 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Forklift Rental California

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!


    May 6, 2021 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Forklift Service Near Me


    May 7, 2021 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. grocery store near me

    bookmarked!!, I love your web site!


    May 7, 2021 at 04:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. tire stores in orange county ca

    Next time I read a blog, Hopefully it does not disappoint me just as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, however I actually believed you would have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you could fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.


    May 7, 2021 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Forklift Service California

    Hello there, There's no doubt that your website may be having web browser compatibility problems. Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Apart from that, fantastic website!


    May 7, 2021 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Brewing Near Me


    May 7, 2021 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. autozone near me

    I could not refrain from commenting. Well written!


    May 7, 2021 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Forklift Service Near Me

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be useful to read through articles from other authors and use something from other web sites.


    May 7, 2021 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. dapoxetine

    dapoxetine tablets price dapoxetine 60mg

    May 7, 2021 at 19:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. tires orange county

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Kudos!


    May 7, 2021 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Social Media Marketing Reviews

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this article and the rest of the site is also really good.


    May 7, 2021 at 23:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. orange county trailer repair

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It is the little changes that make the largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!


    May 7, 2021 at 23:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Digital Marketing Engineer

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not fail me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, but I genuinely believed you'd have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you can fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.


    May 8, 2021 at 01:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Internet Marketing Agencies Near Me

    Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to generate a great article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and don't seem to get anything done.


    May 8, 2021 at 02:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Digital Marketing Company


    May 8, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.