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 (731 Responses)
  1. Diesel Sprinter Repair Service

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day. It's always helpful to read articles from other authors and use a little something from other web sites.


    May 16, 2021 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Chevy Express Van Repair

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful article. Thank you for supplying this information.


    May 17, 2021 at 06:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Mina Bahnsen

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these Second Life authors and blogs


    May 17, 2021 at 07:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 2007 Sprinter Rear Heater Repair

    You have made some good points there. I looked on the web for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.


    May 17, 2021 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 2003 Sprinter Ac Repair

    I'd like to thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this blog. I really hope to see the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own, personal site now 😉


    May 17, 2021 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. 2016 Sprinter Repair Shops


    May 17, 2021 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Maserati Mpg


    May 17, 2021 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Dent Repair Los Angeles


    May 17, 2021 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Washing Near Me


    May 17, 2021 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Maserati Dealerships In California

    I'm more than happy to discover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you book marked to look at new stuff in your web site.


    May 17, 2021 at 20:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Miguel Zerby

    I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2008/12/sleeping-on-this-job-isnt-a-laughing-matter/


    May 17, 2021 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. rv repairs near me

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Many thanks, However I am experiencing troubles with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anybody else getting identical RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    May 18, 2021 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. rv parts and service near me

    I absolutely love your site.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m looking to create my very own site and want to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Thank you!


    May 18, 2021 at 06:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. takipçi satın al

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful article. Thanks for supplying these details.

    May 18, 2021 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Forklift Maintenance Los Angeles

    Hi, I think your web site might be having internet browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E., it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, excellent blog!


    May 18, 2021 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Internet Marketing Agency


    May 19, 2021 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Kip Puglia

    I don't know about you people but I infatuated with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2009/08/congress-looks-to-ban-cell-phones-on-airlines/


    May 19, 2021 at 04:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Eye Exam Deals Near Me


    May 19, 2021 at 04:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Eye Appointment Near Me

    I'm more than happy to find this site. I wanted to thank you for ones time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely liked every part of it and i also have you book marked to check out new information on your website.


    May 19, 2021 at 04:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Good Eye Doctors Near Me


    May 19, 2021 at 05:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. energy pills walgreens


    May 19, 2021 at 06:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Video Marketing Companies California

    I needed to thank you for this great read!! I absolutely loved every bit of it. I've got you book marked to look at new stuff you post…


    May 19, 2021 at 06:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. takipçi satın al

    I am in fact happy to read this weblog posts which carries lots of useful information,
    thanks for providing these data.

    May 19, 2021 at 06:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Eye Appointment Near Me


    May 19, 2021 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. best energy pills

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be interesting to read articles from other authors and use a little something from other web sites.


    May 19, 2021 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Nearby Printing Services

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


    May 19, 2021 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Windows Orange County

    I wanted to thank you for this fantastic read!! I certainly enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you book marked to look at new stuff you post…


    May 19, 2021 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. RV Repair Los Angeles


    May 19, 2021 at 22:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Internet Marketing Companies

    I quite like reading through an article that can make men and women think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!


    May 20, 2021 at 00:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Alberto Haxton

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these Second Life articles and blogs


    May 20, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Digital Marketing Agencies

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Appreciate it!


    May 20, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Video Marketing Service


    May 20, 2021 at 06:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. priligy

    dapoxetine hydrochloride 60 buy avanafil canada

    May 20, 2021 at 07:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Internet Marketing Experts

    This is a topic which is close to my heart... Take care! Where are your contact details though?


    May 20, 2021 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Internet Marketing Experts

    Hello there! This post could not be written much better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I most certainly will send this post to him. Fairly certain he'll have a great read. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 20, 2021 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Local Marketing Business

    You have made some decent points there. I checked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.


    May 20, 2021 at 10:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Digital Marketing Services

    I blog often and I truly thank you for your information. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to bookmark your blog and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your Feed too.


    May 20, 2021 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Content Marketing Firm

    Next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't disappoint me just as much as this one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, however I truly thought you would have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something that you can fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.


    May 20, 2021 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Entertainment System Los Angeles


    May 20, 2021 at 14:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Camera Riverside


    May 20, 2021 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Lashawn Walke

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a online game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these Second Life articles and blogs


    May 20, 2021 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. trailer repair places near me


    May 20, 2021 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Social Media Marketing Agency

    Aw, this was a very good post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a great articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a lot and don't manage to get nearly anything done.


    May 20, 2021 at 20:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. bus body shop

    You made some good points there. I checked on the web for more information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.


    May 20, 2021 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. cabinet repair orange county


    May 20, 2021 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. mcd rv center

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who has been conducting a little research on this. And he actually bought me dinner simply because I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this subject here on your web page.


    May 20, 2021 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. rv upgrades

    An impressive share! I've just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been doing a little research on this. And he actually bought me dinner due to the fact that I found it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this subject here on your website.


    May 21, 2021 at 03:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. travel trailer remodeling companies


    May 21, 2021 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. cyclosporine

    buy cyclosporine usa buy cyclosporine uk

    May 21, 2021 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Countertops Los Angeles


    May 21, 2021 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

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.