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Coping with long waits at the doctor's office

I love my daughters' pediatrician: She's smart, knowledgeable, easy to talk with, and cautious without being alarmist. And thanks to her uber-efficient office staff, she has never kept us waiting - something that's beyond important to this sometimes-stressed (and frequently rushed) mom. I recognize this isn't the norm, though, and I read with interest a piece in tomorrow's New York Times (but online now) on long waits at medical offices.

Reporting that the average wait time to see a doctor last year was 23 minutes, writer Lesley Alderman quotes several irritated patients and provides some great tips on how to cope with the waiting. Among them:

SPEAK UP. Julia Lloyd, 48, has a rare heart condition that few doctors in the country are qualified to treat. When she was repeatedly kept waiting by her specialist, she spoke to him directly.

“By talking it over, I realized he wasn’t out playing golf or something. He was dealing with emergency situations and doing his best,” said Ms. Lloyd, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. After their conversation her doctor agreed to start informing the front desk when he was running late, so patients could know what to expect.

“As patients, we need to learn how to speak up,” Ms. Lloyd said. “At the same time, doctors need to learn to listen.”

Alderman also recommends booking the doctor's first appointment of the day, a suggestion I can personally vouche for. My OB - the exact opposite of our pediatrician - was infamous for running late, so I always snagged the 8 AM appointments and rarely had a problem. (Believe me - pregnant women and long waits don't mix well!)

Photo by Earls37a

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