How long can you possibly wait?

It’s an honest question. I’ll set the scene and then I will need you to check my motives here…Say for example, you have a doctor’s appointment – nothing life threating, just a routine check-up. You have insurance and you are an established patient. You arrive tern minutes early in case the front desk staff wants to ask you if your information is up to date (it is) or if your insurance has changed (it hasn’t). You appointment time comes and goes. Thirty minutes later you are called back to the exam room (also known as holding cell two) where you are told that the primary doctor who you painstakingly set up an appointment with over the course of the last week and a half (no, the 20th is out, sorry I have to pick up my kids from school at that time, etc.) is with another patient AND HAS TWO MORE AHEAD OF YOU. Buuut, the nurse practitioner could see you right away… You agree, because it’s now been fifty minutes since you stepped into the office and they already have taken your co-pay (well played…). Asking for a friend, of course…

My question is this; what is an acceptable way to handle this situation. I (I mean my friend) understand that appointments go long and sometimes the times bleed into one another but when does it become unacceptable? Is it the patient’s responsibility to call on the way to the office and see if appointments are running as planned? Would it be weird to ask when the office is taking the co-pay? There are some appointments I always give leeway with – when I go to the ob-gyn for my annual checkup I know there are other girls who will hear wonderful or crazy or even heartbreaking news ahead of me and they need a little more time with the doctor to address all of their concerns. Does that courtesy get extended to all practices? I feel like this has morphed from a true curiosity into a “Dear Abby” letter and so it’s only fitting I end the post as follows:

Signed, Sick of Waiting in South Florida


11 thoughts on “How long can you possibly wait?

  1. I waited nearly 6 hours for an overnight on-call doctor to make a house call on a dear elderly friend recently. We’d gone insane with the tiredness as the clock headed for 4:00am, but didn’t feel it right to call an ambulance as it was not technically an emergency. But that’s the NHS (UK National Health Service) for you. An imperfect, overloaded service, but, and this is the good bit… still free to use at the point of need. My friend has, since that conscientiously handled callout on Sunday night/Monday morning, had a clinic appointment, several tests and an MRI scan – but no bill. But waiting is the trade, and we have to suck-it-up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here’s an alternative…
    Made an appointment one year in advance. Doctor cancels day of appointment. Reschedule? Nine months until next open appointment.
    Day of appointment (21 months later), got there early for the same reasons you note, before I could finish the paperwork they were calling me in. Nurse follows me in to take vitals and leaves paper robe. Before I can get the robe on, doctor is knocking to come in. Exam takes 10 minutes. All of my questions were answered with “See a specialist” and “I’ll write a rx.” But wait…um…
    Doctor is on to next patient. Fifteen minute increments is what they allow per patient (unless there’s an emergency).
    Made an appointment for the next year and we’ll see what happens. No waiting, but I feel like I didn’t “see the doctor.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so wrong. I definitely feel slighted when I opt to see the specific doctor and I am ‘handed off’ to whoever else is available. It seems like a waste of their time to catch them up to speed on ten years’ worth of my medical history (and mine is pretty straight forward) then discuss treatments/evaluations/ etc. then get their conclusion based on the synopsis. I must say for straight forward issues that I have had with the kids we have used teledoc (even though I was skeptical at first) and it has revolutionized my pediatric urgent issues…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just this year my plan offers a virtual appointment via Facetime. I haven’t used it yet, but will if / when the time comes. It seems very strange, but I guess that’s kind of the direction technology is going. It’s good to know your experiences with teledoc have gone well. Thanks for sharing!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As a provider, this is tough. So many variables come to mind as to why you had to wait fifty minutes. Nevertheless, this amount of time is unacceptable. The most one should ever have to wait is 15 minutes at any appointment (dentist, doctor, therapist, surgeon). After this time a receptionist should provide you with a generic excuse; for example, “Ms. It only takes a year Dr _ is tied up. Would you like to continue to wait or would you like to reschedule?” At this point you should be asked what works for your schedule, not the other way around. If you decide to wait, your visit should not seem rushed. I am also flabbergasted that you made an appointment for one doctor and were asked to see another (I personally would never do this to a client. After all, who wants to retell their whole health history?).

    Yes, real life happens ,but you should have received a courtesy call and this clearly should have been explained before you forked over your deductible. You shouldn’t have had to say a word. I think your doctor’s office owes you a deductible and needs to waive your next deductible, or at least validate your parking long enough so you can enjoy a lunch or afternoon of shopping.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. As a one time receptionist, I am compassionate to the position the front desk staff was in, but there wasn’t even a hint of apology or acknowledgment of the wait time. I agree that it should have been brought up before they collected my co-pay.


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