Dealing with Your Doctor's "Chronic Lateness Syndrome"


Things to keep in mind while waiting for your appointment.

By Mary Schwager, Consumer Watchdog for GALTime

How many times have you rushed to the doctor’s office to be on time for an appointment, and then ended up waiting so long you have enough time to catch up with every email in your blackberry AND read two of the bad magazines in the waiting area? Then, when you finally once get some face time with your doc, you feel like you’re hurried through everything.

A new poll by consumer review organization Angie’s List found nearly 40 percent of patients admit to feeling rushed through appointments and don’t feel they have time to communicate problems with their doctor.

We polled Galtime readers who echo those concerns. Kristine Schriber says, “The best part is you wait. And wait. And wait. Then you get in the room. And wait. And wait.” PJ Schott recalls, “Walking out of a doctor's office... and telling the receptionist to reschedule me before I started billing the doctor for my time!” Gloria Bauer attributes it to our health care system, “It is managed care at its worst.”

Related: 10 Most Complained About Consumer Services

Founder of Angie’s List, Angie Hicks says their survey revealed some surprising wait times. “It’s not unusual for health providers to run behind. In fact, a recent Angie’s List poll, 80 percent of respondents said they waited almost an hour to see their provider.”

Hicks offers some tactics for patients to cope with these frustrating situations.

Dealing with Your Doctor's "Chronic Lateness" Syndrome
Be assertive, not aggressive: Oversee your health by asking about different options, but don’t be overbearing by viewing your doctor as the enemy.

Check for mistakes: To avoid potential safety issues, regularly obtain and review your medical records for any errors or omissions.

Embrace support staff: Don’t hesitate to interact with nurses and physician assistants. These trained professionals can answer many of your health care questions.

Related: Mammogram Guidelines: Why Am I So Confused?

Record your visit: Bring a recording device into the room or take notes while the doctor is instructing you so you can understand everything that is being said. It may even be beneficial to invite a family member or friend to tag along to your appointments to ask questions.

Speak up: Repeat aloud what your doctor says, as doing so puts you both on the same page and increases the likelihood you’ll retain information.

Give feedback: You can’t expect a physician to improve if he/she never knows there’s a problem. Share your good and bad feedback.

Move on: If you aren’t seeing eye-to-eye with your physician after trying these tips, it may be time to find a new doctor.

Prepare for your visit: Bring a list of questions you’d like to ask. However, prioritize the questions as there may not be time to get through them. If possible, schedule your doctor’s appointment first thing in the morning before the doctor has a chance to fall behind.

Bringing a list is what Galtime reader Maura Kelly does, “I have an agenda of questions or issues so I know I cover everything.”

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And here are some "out of the box" Galtime reader suggestions for dealing with your doctor's chronic lateness syndrome. Carol Spikler wonders, “Why they can't give us courtesy calls if the doctor is running late is beyond me. We all have cell phones.” Jeanne Borelli checks in via phone before her appointment. “I always call before I head out to my appointment and ask if they are running behind and by how much? That way I don't waste my time sitting in the office.”

Bottom line, though your doctor is an expert and sometimes check up’s can be stressful, Galtime reader Linda Goldberg Bara reminds patients remember you’re the customer. “You should never put up with below standard service.”

Breast cancer survivor Barbara Osler says after all the doctor’s she’s had to deal with she knows how to speak up.“I am certainly not afraid to command their attention; after all, it’s my health.”

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Which Companies Leave You 'On Hold'?
Being CHARGED to Pay Your Bills. Huh!?

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.