Stick It To Doctors Who Keep You Stuck In Waiting Room

Oh, those doctors, with their smug, self-important tendency to keep you stuck in waiting rooms while they play Tetris and check their Facebook. The New York Times has a remedy for what ails you, providing advice on how to get back at doctors who keep you waiting:

*If your doc makes a habit of tardiness, dump him.

*Hunt for a physicians group like this that guarantees appointment times.

*Ask for a discount if you’re kept waiting.

*Complain directly to your doctor and/or whine about the wait times online.

What have you done to minimize medical wait times? I opt to just accept them as a fact of life and rely on my DSi to keep me distracted.

Punishing Doctors Who Make You Wait [The New York Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. danmac says:

    I perform my prostate exams at home.

  2. Alvis says:

    Complain too loudly and they’ll make a note in your chart about you being a problem patient.

    • Buckus says:

      If I recall correctly, you mean “Difficult”

    • Nidoking says:

      Isn’t that just a myth perpetuated by an episode of Seinfeld?

      • Tankueray says:

        No, I requested a copy of my file when I switched Drs. a while back. It really pissed me off reading all the little notes in my file. Not that they were bad, but they were unnecessary and unprofessional.

        • mythago says:

          I’m just astonished they gave you the file WITH the little notes. As any attorney who does malpractice cases can tell you, there’s a lot of addition and subtraction that goes on with medical files when somebody else gets to see them.

        • dabarak says:

          Examples please. Not that I don’t believe you, but they have GOT to be entertaining! ; )

      • Dustbunny says:

        I seem to remember it was an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.

    • LuzioFantazmic says:

      Keep complaining and they make you wait longer.

    • Michaela says:

      Why does that matter? It isn’t like they ever read the chart anyway! I have had to tell so many nurses to not tell me my weight and deal with their strange looks before they ever get the sense to look down and realize I am at the office because I have anorexia (and that such specificatons like the numbers issue are all written on the top page of my file).

      Also, I don’t think I have ever spent less than 30 minutes in a waiting room. The wait in the actual examining room is usually another 30 minutes.

  3. sponica says:

    Get appointments as early in the day as possible. These are less likely to be disrupted by emergencies.

    Also, BE HONEST when you schedule your appointments about what your ailment is. A lot of reasons that doctors get off track is because patient A says they are suffering from X but then they bring up Y and Z at the last second. Sure honestly scheduling appts doesn’t help you minimize wait times, but it helps the person after you.

    • Silverhawk says:

      This. I’ve found most of my wait times with my PCP was because of running over with previous patients that came in for something simple & ended up having a host of issues. That was also part of the reason I saw this doctor – instead of rushing patient encounters to see the next patient, she took the time required to address all concerns. The downside was running perpetually late.

      • dragonfire81 says:

        The way my insurance is set up, they require each issue to be addressed in a SEPARATE APPOINTMENT. I am not joking. I went in for something and I mentioned something else and the NP I was dealing with said I’d have to make another appointment for that because if it was done all at once my insurance wouldn’t cover the second issue I had.

        The doctor I saw in Canada was always running 15-20 minutes late, but at least he was consistent which made planning a little easier. I did always make a point to schedule appointments on days off or get the day off when I knew I had an appointment.

    • edison234 says:

      That sounds like some kind of commie socialism for the doctors office.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      If they want us to be honest then they can’t cut us off when explaining the issue.

      I had that problem with one doctor’s office. Apparently, they only wanted to hear one symptom per visit and immediately talked over you if you tried to say anything else.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      I believe Dr.’s call those doorknob problems/questions. It’s when the patient waits until your hand is on the doorknob to spring it.

  4. smo0 says:

    I have no issues with my current doctor. She doesn’t over book – and she takes her time with patients… occasionally she runs over about 15 mins into my appointment but she takes her time with me as well. I don’t see too many complaints from the other patients either.
    Plus she has a flat screen TV in the waiting room with cable and up to date reading material… which her staff wipes down with disinfectant wipes. Plus she’s from Africa and has a cool accent.

    • QuantumRiff says:

      My last doctor before I moved, if I had an appointment later in the day, I would sometimes get a call from the receptionist around lunch time letting me know that they were rescheduling me from 2:30 to 3pm, since they had fallen behind. I really appreciated that better than showing up at 2:15, and waiting..

      My new doctor, 2000 miles away.. his office expects you to call if you are running late.. They don’t extend the same courtesy.

      • smo0 says:

        Or worse… they can charge you for missed appointments.
        I’ve been in officers where there’s a 2-3 hour wait and some people have to run to work after and they end up missing the appointment and they are told there will be a $35 fee billed to them.
        When I was in my accident, I had to see a surgeon to asses whether or not I needed surgery – everyone told me “better bring a couple of books.” I shit you not – the standard wait time in the office was 3-5 hours. The good thing is, there was fair warning – and they had a 5 disc DVD changer.

        • craptastico says:

          you should absolutely not pay a missed appointment fee if you are there on time and they keep you waiting. in a perfect world you could charge them a missed appt fee, since you were the one left with a hole in your schedule, but that will never happen

          • smo0 says:

            Oh I agree – but it’s on the list of the “random fees” doctors want to charge these days….

        • greggen says:

          If a doctor’s office tried to charge a missed appointment charge, when I was sitting out in their waiting room during the time of my appointment and I had to leave after waiting a reasonable time?
          I would wait for the bill, dispute it with a certified letter, and if they took any other steps to collect that missed appointment charge would charge them for the missed appointment, taking them to small claims court and loudly inform the media.

        • mxjohnson says:

          If the appointment was at 3:00, and you were there at 3:00 but the doctor wasn’t ready and you stuck around as long as you could, you should raise holy hell if they charge you a missed appointment fee. I know I would. Shoot, I’d be tempted to sue the doctor in small claims court for the same amount.

          However, the missed appointment fee is a good thing when used properly. A doctor can have twenty patients scheduled each day. Typically, two or three of those will be no shows. But some days there might be only ten patients honoring the appointment, and other days twenty, making it seem like one day is underbooked, and the next overbooked. If a doctor needs to see 18 patients a day to stay in business, he can’t schedule only 18, because it’d be a rare day when all 18 actually showed up.

      • sponica says:

        The PCP I had 3 or 4 PCPs ago (which was only about 3 yrs ago) was part of the family practice where I’m still a patient. One day I had an appt late in the afternoon, however he was running about an hr or hr and a half late. One of the other doctors in the practice saw me instead, which was fine by me but I’m sure would have sent another patient thermonuclear.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        That would be awesome. I love my doctor dearly, but the office staff, especially the receptionists, leaves a lot to be desired.

    • freelunch says:

      sounds like a pedatrician that my wife is friends with… cute as a button, sweet as jelly bean, and rocking an awesome south african accent.

      the kid’s love her…

  5. TheFinalBoomer says:

    I couldn’t agree more. My wife was a medical assistant for years, and in her experience it was mostly slow docs that were holding things up. She had one she worked for that was late every single day, pushing the schedule back every single day. It drove her crazy as she couldn’t leave until the doc was done, most times an hour or more past the time she was supposed to be done.

    Yes she was getting paid for it, but it makes it impossible to plan anything on a weeknight and takes away time with the family. Not to mention the inconvenience to the patients, who of course took it out on my wife instead of the doc most of the time.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Are you kidding? Doctors are slow because not only do they have patients to deal with in person, but they also have paper work, emails from patients, calls from patients, plus they have to keep abreast of current research and producers in medicine. I’m sure there are many more things too.

      What the heck is everyone complaining about. Maybe you should try being a doctor for a day.

      • TheFinalBoomer says:

        Damn, are YOU kidding? It’s called a schedule man. Docs know what they do in a day, and it doesn’t take much effort to organize it. Most simply don’t make the effort. You obviously have no experience in this area. As I said, my wife was working with docs for over 10 years, and no, not the same one. She had many experiences with many different docs as I said. Get a clue and maybe actually know what you are talking about before you spout off.

        • jessjj347 says:

          Right but, you missed my point. Those things are not scheduled, they come up ad hoc. As in, if a patient calls with a problem, it’s not going to be on the schedule.

          I didn’t mean to spout off at you, sorry. It was more a general annoyance with this whole thread and everyone’s complaints. I just don’t think that they know the reality of how much work a doctor has in an outpatient situation.

          And yes, I have worked in the medical industry before.

  6. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    I posted a negative review of my (now former) dental office on Yelp.

    • ConsumerPop says:

      That’s how I actually found my current dentist–whom I love.

    • PatrickPortland says:

      I vented about my former PCP on Yelp as well. The original draft was 1,300 words, but I had to trim it down to fit.

  7. BettyCrocker says:

    Get the first appt of the day or the first one following their lunch.

    Or you can also call ahead to find out if they are running on time.

  8. tungstencoil says:

    I switched doctors a number of years ago because of this. It was really, really bad. The final straw:

    I arrived, and could just tell it was busy. I asked if it was going to be more than two hours (no joke) and, if it was, I’d rebook. They said to have a seat.

    Two hours later, I ask if I should rebook. Their reply? “You’re next”. Sure enough… next to be plunked in a little room, where I waited another hour. At this point, having missed 1/2-day of work, I waited it out.

    Afterword, I complained to the office manager. She gave me a song and dance about being busy, blah blah… and I said, “I understand. I didn’t ask to be moved ahead; I asked if I should *rebook* the appointment.” She was dumbfounded.

    One of the doctors at that practice had left about a year ago. He was really cool; I tracked him down and started to see him. A few visits in, he confessed he left the other practice because they did crap like that. They had no sense of scheduling.

    Now it’s rare to wait more than 10 minutes. They actually have signs up that say “if it’s been more than 15 minutes please come tell us.”

    • johnperkins21 says:

      I had a similar experience. I signed up with a doctor that’s right down the street from my office, about a 3 minute drive. However, I was never seen by the doctor within one hour of my scheduled appointment. One day I walked in, saw that it was busy but waited anyway. After about an hour I left and never looked back.

      I now have a doctor that is about 35 minutes away from my office, and an hour from my house, but I’ve never waited more than 10 minutes to see the doc. If I have an appointment during work hours, it’s actually faster to see the doctor 35 minutes away than it is the one just down the street.

  9. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    Gee— I WALKED OUT when it was 30 minutes PAST my appointment.

    Walk out — Easy peasy.

    • bastion72 says:

      Some doctors have a cancellation fee if you don’t cancel before 24 hours of your appointment.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Yeah, but you’re not the one who canceled the appointment. The doctor being to busy to see you is not the same thing as you just not showing up.

        I’m sure they’d try to argue it’s the same thing but they can’t charge you for being late or missing an appointment and expect no repercussions for not keeping the appointment themselves.

      • full.tang.halo says:

        Just inform them of your policy of charging a fee if the doctor is more than 60 minutes late in getting to your appointment….

    • liz.lemonade says:

      Not so easy when most doctors now make you pay the co-pay when you sign in, and have cancellation fees if you don’t show up or walk out.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        Sounds like you need a new doctor. I pay, but only after services are rendered. If they’re not willing to wait an hour even after they have your name, address, phone, workplace, insurance, SSN, etc, you gotta wonder what they’re so afraid of.

        About 9 years ago I walked out of an office. Waited an hour, complaining at 30 minutes and 45 minutes. Watched as people walked in were seen ahead of me. Next day I got a call from my insurance that actually asked if I went to my appointment or not. I didn’t get any info out of them after explaining the story, but I surmise the doctors office tried to bill a visit anyway.

      • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

        Nope. I stood there (admittedly awkwardly) as she processed my Refund — Then walked out. She also had the nerve to tell me I should have “expected to wait longer than the appointment time” — I hope they fail.

    • davere says:

      I’ve walked out before too. I’ve done it with 2 different doctors, neither office now makes me wait for more than 5 minutes any more. I arrive to the office and I’m called almost right away.

    • Lividity says:

      Yeah. I do this. After 1 hour wait I will go up to the receptionist and tell them that I can no longer meet the doctor today and that I’ll have to reschedule. It actually works. Next time I am not kept waiting longer than 15 minutes.

      Oh, and if you need to pay the co-pay prior to the appointment, always do it by check and ask for it back when you reschedule.

    • dg says:

      I got up and asked 15 mins past my appt what the deal was, they said “just a couple more mins” – 30 mins after that I stood up and said “If I’m not in there with him in the next 10 minutes, I’m leaving and you’ll get my bill.”

      10 mins later I’m in the room – no doc – I told them he had 5 mins to come in or I was leaving. 5 mins later, I left – told them I’d be sending them my bill for my time.

      I sent the Dr. a bill for my hourly rate (3 figures), plus time to/from his office + transportation costs (per mile at the IRS rate) + time to wait past the “gimmie” 15 minutes + time in the office wasted. When he balked, I sent it to a collection agency.

      Got my money. Changed doctors. The one I have now is ON-TIME, and when he’s not – they call before the appt to let you know, see what you want to do…. apparently this new guy is getting a lot of business because he’s on time…

  10. ITDEFX says:

    When I was with Kaiser Permanente (sp?), every doctor I went to was ALWAYS late. For example, my PCD…set up a first opening appointment for 8am, arrive at 7:45am…do all the paper work, pay co-pay and so on…wait….and wait….and wait….see my doctor walk in at 8:40am! and I don’t get seen until 9:00am! And she spends like less than 5 minutes with me and out the door I go :-| It’s hard to ask for a discount on co-pay because that’s the set agreed price between you and the insurance carrier. Seeing a specialist was also the same way. Always expect your doctor to be late for your appointment, but of course if you are late to yours or miss out on your appointment then it’s a fine for you :( geez.

    • Marlin says:

      Where was this at? The KP office me and my wife use they are always on time and even when my wife called once over something small they told her to come in and they saw her 5 minutes after she got there.
      That and having nurses on the call center line is nice. My wife went into labor but wanted to doubel check if she REALLY needed to go in as I was packing her stuff and getting ready and telling her to get off the phone and lets go. :-)

    • anime_runs_my_life says:

      That is not anything new. Many, many years ago, when I was 19, I had an appointment to see an ob/gyn and sat for a hour in the exam room. Mind you, I was all ready for the doctor (undressed, sitting in the paper excuse for a covering), and those rooms are so frickin’ cold!

      About half an hour into waiting, I tried to make myself as decent as possible and peeked out to ask a nurse nearby if it would be much longer for the doctor. She just looked at me with a deer in the headlights type look, glanced down at her paperwork and mumbled “Soon”. So I waited a little bit more, and when it got to be an hour, I dressed and walked out just as the doctor was getting ready to walk down the hall to her office.

      I demanded my copay back, which the receptionist handed to me with a not so surprised look on her face. Just as I was getting ready to walk out, the doctor comes running up to me, asking me who do I think I am walking out on her. I turned and asked her who she thought she was making me wait an hour, making me lose pay (no sick time, no vacation time as it was a sole proprietorship company I worked for), and also making me late for work. She couldn’t say anything, only stand there looking like a fish with her mouth opening and closing.

      I still lived with my parents at the time and it was my dad’s insurance that covered me, so when I got home that night, I told them and he suggested I write a complaint to the business office.

      Three weeks later, I got a call from the business office asking how much I made an hour and how many hours did I lose because of waiting. A week later, I had a check in my hand in compensation for the problem I had.

      I waited an hour because I was used to waiting in the urgent care clinics (I was a frequent visitor since I tended to have a lot of problems with ear infections and strep until I finally out grew them), so I figured this was the norm. I know better now. My doctor only makes me wait if she’s handling not only her patients and her colleague’s patients if they’re on vacation.

    • AnonymousCoward says:

      I have similar problems with Kaiser. Kaiser sets standards for the length of appointments, and the appointments are scheduled according to their standards. My primary care doc (who is a very good doctor, btw) can work within the Kaiser standard and generally stay on time. But every specialist I see that is actually a good doctor will be running at least an hour late by the end of the day. I had more than one of them tell me it was because of the standard appointment length, and if they could schedule their own appointments, they’d spread them out further.

      I’ve gotten very good care for a lot less money than if I had different insurance, so I put up with the waits.

  11. Dutchess says:

    My Doc is horrible about this, so I started showing up 15 minutes late.

    The receptionist balked last time and I pointed out that every time I’ve been here the doctor has kept me waiting at least 20 minutes so techinically I was early. She got snotty, and I said my time was just as valuable as his and walked away.

    I stay because he’s a great doctor BUT when I schedule my appointments I expect them to be on time just as much he expects me to be on time.

  12. ellmar says:

    I once sent a doctor a “bill” for the time I spent waiting in his lobby, which was usually 45 minutes to an hour. He deducted the total from what I owed him and apologized for the delays. After that I never had to wait more than 10 minutes.

    • ITDEFX says:

      Wow…just wow… never thought someone would have the balls to do that…good job!

    • freelunch says:

      you are my hero.

      I have invoiced a cable company for my time before (and received compensation through free setup, and first month free), but have never had the guts to go after someone I do repeatable business with.

  13. liz.lemonade says:

    Accidental delays are fine by me. If a doctor overbooks once in a while or has patients taking longer than expected, I can live with that. What gets me are doctors who do this every single time. I take ADHD medication, and by law I have to return in person every two months for a prescription refill. The visit literally takes five minutes — I go in, he asks if everything’s the same, I say yes, he writes the scrip, and I leave. My previous doctor a few years ago kept me waiting an hour each time (for a five minute visit), and the waiting room was filled with others on long waits. So I switched to a different doctor who was great about in-and-out for a while… but now he’s doing the same thing. Look, if I book a 3pm appointment and you know you won’t be able to see me until 3:45, then just schedule me for 3:45! Don’t have me show up on time then sit around and wait. (At least one of my other doctors admits to overbooking and tells us to call an hour ahead of the schedule time to see when we should actually show up.)

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Damn schedule 2 prescriptions. `

    • RxDude says:

      Federal law allows for 90 days’ supply on Schedule 2 prescriptions. State law might be more restrictive.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        In NJ, IIRC, a Sched 2 prescription can not be more than 30 days old, and they aren’t allowed to pre-write.

    • Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

      My doctor is often 30-60 minutes behind by the end of the day, but I stick with him. Why, because he’s just that good of a doctor when it comes to talking to you and listening to what you say and actually treating his patients like people, instead of money-making cattle. I don’t know if the slowness is overbooking, or if it’s just that he takes time with his patients, and they try to work as many people in during the day as possible, to the point that he loses time throughout the day.

      I’ve gotten around this by making sure I schedule morning appointments early in the morning and I rarely wait longer than 10-15 minutes.

  14. phrekyos says:

    Before I started college, I had to have a form filled out and signed by my doctor. I was left waiting over 6 hours and still didn’t get it signed despite practically begging her rude, incompetent staff. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I needed that form to start school.

    After getting an absolute last-minute emergency appointment with another doctor, I checked the state board of medicine to see if there were any complaints or anything against her. Sure enough, the board had disciplined her for writing prescriptions to herself for painkillers or something like that. It was a small town, and I made sure that got around.

    • FatLynn says:

      Usually you can drop those forms off and pick them up a few days later.

      • phrekyos says:

        I don’t remember it that well, but for some reason, that was not an option. All she had to do was sign the freaking form, anyway.

        • DoktorGoku says:

          Signing a form means a lot more than you might think. Seriously. Since I’m a surgeon, I don’t have to do clearances for work nearly as often as, say, a family practice doc, but I’ve known so, so many colleagues who have had “just a simple form” come back to bite them in the end. Bear in mind that for every crowd of people who “just needs a form signed”, there’s a couple people who are trying to get that physician’s signature on the form for the sake of doing something they shouldn’t be doing, which can and often will lead to legal issues.

          Therefore, you understand when the majority of physicians get irritated when people say, “You just need to sign a form!” It’s a lot bigger than that, and we’re not going to put our careers on the line, though you, obviously, are free to do what you like.

    • danmac says:

      You showed up without an appointment trying to get a free service from the physician and were treated rudely by her staff, so you did your best to ruin her personal and professional lives? This was, after all, a small town. I think you overreacted big time.

      • phrekyos says:

        It’s not a free service. I had an appointment and my insurance was paying for it. I was there first, got my physical and vaccines, and was told to wait to get the form back. Instead of filling out a form, which would take 60 seconds, TOPS, she went to the next patient, who decided on the spot she wanted some boil drained or something (Yes, the staff told me what was going on, isn’t that classy? Probably a HIPAA violation, but I digress.) and proceeding to make me and many other people wait and wait and wait.

        What she should have done was fill out the form while in the room with me and send me on my way, and then tell the next patient she’d have to make a new appointment for her stupid elective surgery, because other people were waiting.

        • danmac says:

          If you had an appointment, I can understand why you would be so angry. I used to work in a medical office, and we would see patients all the time who would just walk in and demand services such as “just sign this real quick”, regardless of whether they had an appointment. I assumed you were one of those people, but obviously you aren’t and that doctor was grossly incompetent at customer service.

      • Melbelle says:

        Read her comment. She never said she didn’t have an appointment.

    • Kate of Lokys says:

      Except it’s not just “signing a freaking form.” Assuming it was the standard university health form, it’s a legally binding document on which a physician’s signature is considered to be an official statement of your current health and vaccination status. For your doctor to sign the form in good conscience, she would need to go over your medical records in some detail, at the very least, and possibly call you in for a physical and a couple of shots as well. That’s why most doctors ask you to leave forms with them: they can take your chart home overnight, spend half an hour looking through it, fill out the relevant information, book any necessary additional appointments, then have you pick up the completed form once everything is ready. (Incidentally, who do you think pays doctors for doing that? That’s right: nobody, unless they charge the patient a token fee for their time).

      It sounds to me like you left things until the last possible minute, then waltzed into the doctor’s office assuming she would either a) drop everything she was doing immediately so she could go through your chart, or b) sign it without even looking at it, risking her professional reputation and possibly facing disciplinary action for making false statements. You probably gave her “incompetent” staff a heaping helping of attitude, too, venting your rage at the world not revolving around you. Then, when you failed to browbeat your health care provider into giving you special treatment, you retaliated by digging up completely unrelated dirt on her, and shouting it from the rooftops.

      Grow up.

      • phrekyos says:

        Maybe you should read before you comment. I made an appointment, and the only reason it was last minute is because she was so overbooked that was the only time I could GET. It was either that, or get an entirely new doctor, which I ended up having to do anyway. The majority of the form was for ME to fill out, which I already did. I was left waiting for hours solely because her and her staff are rude, incompetent, and disorganized.

        I should also note it wasn’t just me that was left waiting, but the majority of her morning appointments, most of which walked out, because they could.

        Having waited weeks for an appointment and hours in a waiting room, I was more than patient. If you think that is reasonable behavior for health care “professionals”, you have problems.

  15. Ilovegnomes says:

    I think the important thing is to understand WHY the doctor is running late. Yeah, if they are goofing off or intentionally overbook, that’s one thing. But I have a doctor who sometimes runs over because she won’t let any patient leave until they have all of their questions answered and understands everything that is going on. Sometimes that takes a while and sometimes it doesn’t. But knowing that I am getting the same great care as her other patients is worth waiting for.

    • Simon Barsinister says:

      I went to an eye doctor and after the typical 1 hour wait in the waiting room, I was led to an exam room, where I had to wait again.

      While I sat there for another hour, I could hear the doctor in the office next to me MAKING MARKETING CALLS for a multi-level marketing scheme selling some sort of “holistic” supplements. It was every bit as bizarre as you could imaging:

      “The best part is the way to make the most money is to sign up more salespeople in your downline under you, then you don’t have to do any work and they make all the money for you!”

      I switched doctors after that.

  16. rpm773 says:

    Oh, those doctors, with their smug, self-important tendency to keep you stuck in waiting rooms

    Delicate geniuses…all of them!

    • full.tang.halo says:

      Just hope you don’t have to cancel less than 24 hours before your appointment to drive your mother to the chiropodist.

  17. pantheonoutcast says:

    If my doctor keeps me waiting for more than 30 minutes in “waiting room B”, I steal small medical consumables like band-aids and Qtips.

    When one has free healthcare, one shouldn’t complain too much about wait times. I’d rather spend an hour in my Doctor’s air conditioned office with magazines and wi-fi than in some overcrowded clinic or ER somewhere.

  18. Tim says:

    I took my cat to the vet recently. Having him weighed and looked at by the tech took about 6 minutes. Having him looked at and vaccinated by the vet took about 10 minutes.

    In between, I waited 31 minutes. My cat thought he was going to die because of all the dogs he heard. I returned my Zipcar 12 minutes late and got a $50 fine (refunded, though, after explaining what happened).

  19. FatLynn says:

    I accept that wait times are the flip side of being able to get same-day appointments.

    • Josh R. says:

      Interestingly, when I make a same-day appointment at my PCP, I never have to wait more than 30 minutes. It’s because I’m seeing a NP or PA, not a doctor.

    • dru_zod says:

      I can usually get same day appointments with my current doctor, but with my last three there was no such thing. No matter how sick I was, there was no way I was getting an appointment for at least a month, usually longer. They used to let me see the PA for same-day appointments, but eventually they decided that no one could see the PA without getting a referral from the doctor first, and to do that you had to leave a message with the doctor’s nurse, which usually means waiting at least a day, maybe two, to hear anything back at all. Then by the time the doctor decides to let me see the PA, I’m either not sick anymore or I have already been to the urgent care center and the problem has been taken care of. I wonder what exactly the point of having a “family doctor” is if they will never see you when you’re actually sick?

  20. Oface says:

    Primary care physicians are in a shortage….so wait times are going up as more and more medical students decide to go into specialty where they will make the funds to pay those student loans.

    Specialists, ESPECIALLY surgeons are going to have longer wait times. I work for an ENT practice. One day you can come in and wait 5 minutes and get seen…another you can wait for an hour. Just depends on what we get in that day. Sometimes you get a nose bleed or a broken nose and that throws us back. Please be patient with the office staff. 9 times out of 10 its not our fault.

    • edison234 says:

      Well… if you weren’t drunk and full of pills then maybe things could be timely.

    • Momma Volcano says:

      This is why I do my best to get along with the office staff. Little treats, pleasantries while waiting, understanding noises when it gets busy…let me tell you, I adore my present doctor’s office staff, and try to show it. They, in turn, are extra awesome to me and my family. Need a same day appointment? If it is before 3:45 pm, no problem. (After that, it gets a little dicey, but our clinic has evening hours, too.)

      So. The moral of this story? Make friends with the office staff. They will be more accommodating that way.

  21. jimmyhl says:

    Waiting a long time is a drag, but consider: it’s a medical practice, not a muffler shop. Unless you live in an under-served area, chances are that your doctor is busy because s/he is good at the work. What do you think when you walk into a restaurant on Friday night and see no one at the tables? There’s a reason the joint is empty. Same rules apply.

  22. El_Fez says:

    Wait – people have money to go to the Doctor? Seriously?

  23. Abradax says:

    I had a doctor who was constantly overbooked.

    I complained to the doctor herself, but it didn’t help, her staff kept overbooking.

    I would stand out in the hallway just staring, that usually got someone to see me quickly.

    The final straw was waiting 4 hours passed my appointment time and still didn’t get into a waiting room.

    This doctor was constantly overbooked because she saw people without insurance and gave perscription meds out at her office, she was a great doc but my time was worth more than that.

    • DocinNJ says:

      Ask that doctor how much her overhead is per hour, and how much, on average, she gets reimbursed for each patient.
      When you subtract the two, you’ll get her salary; I’ll bet you it’s less than a walgreen’s pharmacist.

      I’ll also bet you that if she didn’t overbook, she would be in the red.

  24. Putts says:

    For my first appointment with a doctor after I graduated college, I had to wait an hour and a half for a 9:30 am appointment time, and another half an hour to see him after I was brought into an exam room. He was a nice guy, but I refuse to do business with anyone who disrespects my time that much.

  25. JGB says:

    If I had an appointment with Jesus Christ and he kept me waiting more than 20 minutes, I would leave.

    A couple of years ago I had to take my daughter to see a foot doctor. This guy would come once a week and see patients out of my regular doctors office. About 15 minutes after our scheduled time, when I was just starting to get irritated, an old woman hobbled up to the desk and asked his nurse (who comes with him) if it was going to be much longer. The nurse told her to sit down until she was called. Turned out that this woman had an appointment an hour before us. So I gathered my things to leave. I usually don’t bother telling them I am going, but I had already filled out the forms and I wanted them reason to leave my personal info with a doctor I was never going to see again. I asked Nurse Ratched for my forms back and she didn’t know whether to shit or go blind. I calmly told her that I expected to be seen on time, that her boss was a foot doctor, that there was no such thing as a foot emergency, and, therefore they were overscheduling. She was literally shaking, she was so angry. She demanded that I sit down and cross out all the info on my forms because they were “proprietary”. I just laughed and folded them and stuck them in my pocket and walked out. I was almost at the door when she screamed at me that “you have to wait to see any doctor! that’s the way it is! They all make you wait!” The regular nurses behind the desk had all turned white to hear this nutbag scream in their waiting room. I told her “this doctor sees me on time” and left.

  26. aboxoflogic says:

    It’s insane how we accept this as normal. I learned while visiting a doctor in Argentina how things could be. They have beautiful offices with a single desk in their lobby with a person sitting there. No glass screens or windows. You walk up and tell the person you have an appointment. They then look at their hand-written list, cross you off and ask you to sit down. They get up and go to one of the many doors that have doctors behind them. They knock, open, whisper something. They come over to where you are sitting and say, “the doctor is ready to see you.” You go into a very sparse office again with a single desk, no table to lie on – rather chairs. You talk with the doctor – you have a conversation – no rush no pressure. I also like that you don’t get weighed, blood pressure temperature and all that stuff that may or may not be related to your problem. If you need those things – you do them. But first you tell the doctor why you are there. I saw this not in one unique place but while visiting five different offices. Test results were the same way – you walk in, you say your name and they hand you your results. You see your own results! Unbelievably. Poor disgraced third world countries have no idea what they are doing with all that free education and social care. I’m the last person to drop Michael Moore’s name but the part of the movie were he went to Cuba was real.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      Congratulations! The home loan you applied for during your recent trip to Argentina was approved!

      Because that wasn’t a doctor’s office….


  27. Dalsnsetters says:

    I think most folks have horror stories about waiting in a doctor’s office! I worked for a doctor (psychologist) for 8 1/2 years. I can count on one hand the number of times he was late or ran over. He was always on time. But I think that was mainly because he didn’t like his job. :)

    I have left two doctors’ offices because of lateness. One was my former OB/GYN. I showed up one day and was told he was delivering a baby, running just a bit late. Ok, should I rescheduled or….? Oh he just called. He’ll be here any minute now. Here’s a gown, blahblahblah, lay down and put your feet in the stirrups. I did. And promptly fell asleep. Woke up about 1 1/2 hours later and he still hadn’t been there and no one had even bothered to check on me or tell me anything! If I’d been awake, I would have opened a royal can of whoopass. As it was, I just dressed and left and found me another doctor.

    My other doctor was my PCP. He kept me waiting in the waiting room for about 30 minutes. When I finally got in to see him, he spoke with me for about 5 minutes and then excused himself to take a “very important” cell phone call. I heard him out in the hallway asking about when his car was going to be finished being detailed!! Yeah, reallll important. I finished with that appointment and found me another PCP. That was just the last straw of many straws.

    What’s the difference between God and a doctor? God doesn’t think he’s a doctor. :)

  28. Itismemc says:

    The biggest problem I get are the tacked on complaints. They hold things back when they schedule the appointment. So something we plan 5 minutes for ends up taking 20….. then it all domino’s downhill….

  29. Josh R. says:

    What’s worse is a doctor’s office where the equipment or the walls or the location preclude you from surfing the net or playing co-op games on your smartphone. My spinal surgeon’s office is in such a place, and since there are only a couple of them in the city, it’s either him or… him. Or a 30-mile drive to the next nearest one.

    Last time I went, it took me three hours. I complained to the office manager, and it turned out in the end that the fault was half an emergency (no one could’ve helped) and half one of my own colleagues, a TV meteorologist who decided “I MUST BE SEEN NOW BECAUSE I’M SO DAMN IMPORTANT SINCE I’M ON TV!!!!!!111111ONEONEone”. I was really tempted to confront him.

    I don’t mind long waits if the doctor reimburses me for my time spent not at work. It actually ended up costing me over $150 for the appointment, if you work in copays, time spent not working (I get paid hourly, and have no PTO or sick time), travel time, and COBRA. I’d like that money back, please.

  30. bandit says:

    Well, when patient numero uno shows up fifteen minutes late, but begs to be seen, a doctor doesn’t want to look like an asshole by turning him away. So that just screws up the schedule for the whole day.

    • Oface says:

      We tell our patients they can be worked back in so there will most likely be a wait. Most of them tend to reschedule at that point.

  31. BCSteve says:

    What you have to consider is WHY the doctor is running late. I’ve shadowed a few doctors in my time. If your doctor is having you wait while playing tetris, yeah, get a new doctor. But all of the ones that I’ve shadowed have been busy constantly. It’s not that they’re bad at scheduling, but emergencies come up. Is your doctor going to ignore someone’s heart attack to look at your hangnail, just because you had an appointment and he didn’t? One of the doctors I shadowed spent a good 5-10 minutes before seeing each patient carefully reviewing their medical charts and history. Patients never saw that, but they definitely benefited from it. He also made sure all his patients had all their questions answered and understood their treatment plans, which sometimes took longer than allotted for in the schedule. Don’t assume that your doctor is off playing games; chances are, they’re not. I just accept the wait as a fact of life.

    • mythago says:

      1) If the doctor is spending 10 minutes in preparation with every patient, that should be built into the schedule.

      2) If the doctor has an emergency or is running over significantly, the staff can notify the patient and ask if they’d like to wait or reschedule.

      This isn’t rocket science.

  32. TheRedSeven says:

    My doctors have the sometimes-helpful-sometimes-annoying practice of calling the day before an appointment with a reminder. As part of that reminder, they usually mention the “No Show” fee of $25-50. That is, if you don’t give at least 24 hours notice of cancellation, they’ll charge you a fee.

    The underlying assumption is that by not showing, you’re wasting the Doctor’s time which would otherwise be bringing in money.

    My practice from this point forward: When I get that call, I will respond as follows,
    “I understand your policy regarding fees for No Shows. I would like to inform you of my policy: If I appear for my appointment on time, I expect to be told a realistic time frame for when I will be seen by the doctor. If I am given a time, and made to wait more than 15 minutes beyond that time frame, I charge a fee of $___ [equal to their No Show fee]. Thank you for understanding my policy.”

    It should work both ways. If I need to pay a doctor for wasting his/her time, then s/he ought to pay me for wasting mine. They have the opportunity to tell me–when I check in–“The doctor is running about 30 minutes behind. Sorry for the wait.” If they do so, they’re covered. But when they say, “Thanks, have a seat.” and I wait for an hour after my appointment, that’s my time they’re wasting. The assumption that the doctor’s time is more valuable than mine infuriates me. It’s neither more or less valuable. Please treat your customers as though they were valued.

    • DocinNJ says:

      So when I have a patient with a new cancer diagnosis, and you’re on my list to be seen, what I’ll do is spend 9 minutes giving about 1/3 of my cancer talk, and then have you come into the room to tell him that your time is more valuable, and he should go on the internet and leave now, so that you can be seen.

  33. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Back in the 70-80’s, my mother once submitted a bill for the time she lost at work because the Dr. kept her waiting multiple times and got fed up. I forget if she deducted it from his bill or sent him one, but after that, she never was kept waiting again. She didn’t do it for all the times she was kept waiting but for the most recent time(s) when it got ridiculous.

  34. Etoiles says:

    The gyno I used to see in New York… she was a great doctor but that practice had some serious scheduling issues. Eventually I realized that if I scheduled for 4:30, I could actually just leave work at 5:00 as usual and be there at 5:30, and be seen 15 – 30 minutes later.

  35. NarcolepticGirl says:

    In Florida, I had several doctors that had a lot of elderly patients. I expected to be waiting.
    My last neurologist told me to call about an hour ahead of time to see what the wait would be – that way I could stay at work a little more before I left.

    I never really cared about sitting in a waiting room. I just figured the doctors had some patients that had a lot of concerns and took longer than expected.

    I would just read.

    • TheRedSeven says:

      ^This. If the doctor is running late, that’s fine. But be up front about it, and give people the opportunity to adjust their schedules. Lying about the wait only makes people angry, and is blatantly disrespectful.

  36. evilpete says:

    These days with Yelp and angies list and citysearch getting high Google ratings, a online review will carry a lot of weight.

    If you want to really make a point tell your doctor about there well earned review.

  37. randyfeldman says:

    This is one of my pet peeves! I have FIRED doctors. One doctor threatened to “dismiss me from his practice.” These are my exact words I told him: “You’re going to dismiss ME? You need to understand that you are a “service provider.” You are no different then my plumber, my gardener, or the guy that collects my garbage!” If you don’t want my business I’m sure i can find a doctor who does! That was 10 years ago and I have never had to wait more then 10 minutes to get in to see him and my RX refills are called in within minutes of notifying his office.

    Just because they have little letters after their name does not impress me. The medical profession thinks that they are special and rules, customer service, and being respectful of their patients is beneath then. Don’t let them get away with it!

    • 47ka says:

      Doctors are completely within their rights to fire patients that they feel that they cannot form a good relationship with. Notification has to be done in advance to give you adequate time to find another physician (usually a month or two). If you were acting like the ass you sound like in this post then I would fire you too.

      For those of you who talk about “so if my doc doesn’t like me they’ll get rid of me,” that’s not how it works. It means people who are constantly rude or assholes who just ignore the doc’s advice. Basically, it doesn’t help your health to have an adversarial relationship, so you might as well find someone who might have a better chance of making you feel comfortable.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      You’re the kind of person who thinks it’s ok to barge into my Assistant Principal’s office in the morning and demand to see me immediately because you’re “a parent.”

      If you treat service professionals as if they were somehow beneath you, then you’re getting shuffled to the back of the line.

  38. Cameraman says:

    My wife’s OB makes us wait 45 minutes to an hour. I hate hate hate this, but my wife really likes the OB and refuses to even consider another one. This doctor has delivered both of our kids, and while I admit he’s really terrific, going to that office makes me stabby.

    The very worst was when my wife was having contractions about 7 minutes apart for about six hours, and we called the doctor, who told us to come into the office right away. So we did…. and we sat in the waiting room for an hour. Every five minutes, I got up and asked the receptionist how long it would be, and every five minutes they told me “five minutes”.

    I finally lost my temper and started yelling at the poor receptionist. The doctor rushed to the front, ushered us into an exam room, told us to go to the hospital. We were out of there in… five minutes. Had a boy later that evening.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      So you had a boy…several hours later. I’m curious as to why, if she was in labor, you didn’t go to the hospital in the first place. And also, what the point of the story is. I expected it to end with “…and because he took so long, the baby was born in the waiting room.”

      • qualia says:

        Because giving birth isn’t like a movie. You don’t go to the hospital right when you’re in labor, labor lasts 6-30 hours and you’re not in any need of medical assistance through most of it if it’s a normal pregnancy. They’ll send you right back home until you’re ready to give birth. Going to a doctor to get an estimate for how your labor’s progressing and when it’s time to go to the hospital is the norm. Rushing straight to the hospital is not. The doc just kept them waiting so long the answer was “go now.”

  39. AllanG54 says:

    I don’t think there’s a service business around that doesn’t make people wait. You want a tech from cable to visit your home…there’s a four hour window. You want your ten minute oil change to get done in ten minutes…doubtful. So why should doctors be so different. It’s really a problem of supply and demand. If there weren’t so many sick people there wouldn’t be so many people in the doctor’s office. Stay healthy, you won’t need a doctor.

  40. Commenter24 says:

    Simple solution: don’t go to the Dr. unless absolutely necessary.

    Lots of people go to the doctor every time something aches or pops and it’s usually totally unnecessary.

    • veritybrown says:

      This. Way too many people think that they or their child has to be seen by the doctor every single time they get a sniffle. (These are also usually the type of patients who demand to be given antibiotics for conditions that antibiotics won’t help.) Here’s a clue, people: your doctor is not God, Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy; he can’t wave a wand and instantly make every little boo-boo better. Here’s another clue: most of the things that are wrong with you will go away on their own. Many minor problems can be treated more easily and less expensively using home remedies. Educate yourself–learn to distinguish between minor problems that you can take care of on your own and serious problems that actually need intervention that ONLY a doctor can provide. As much as we puff doctors up, they are just that: providers of specialized services. Going to the doctor for a simple problem that he can’t really do anything about (like the common cold) is like taking your car to the mechanic because it ran out of gas.

    • greggen says:

      How does your simple solution solve waiting for the doctor?
      Oh I see what you did there.
      You took a legitimate complaint about doctors overbooking and making patients wait, and turned it into some kind of slam against people who complain about waiting, because, some people, go to the doctor too often?

  41. hills says:

    I see a lot of great doctors – and honestly, they don’t even know when they’re late – they just know who’s next, not what time your appt was… In that case, the best thing I’ve found is to nicely let them know my appt was at X, and I ask when’s the best time of day to make an appt? They’re always apologetic – they’re treating patients (not playing Tetris….)

  42. cleo159 says:

    I raise a big stink in the waiting room and then leave, especially if the time I’m waiting is many multiples of the amount of time I expect to spend with the doctor. I’m the paying customer in the relationship, and my time is just as valuable as the doctor’s. If I made my clients wait over an hour to see me, I’d quickly be out of business. I’ll reschedule once on the off chance that there was a legitimate emergency, and after that it’s off to another doctor.

  43. ShreeThunderbird says:

    I am willing to wait for 30 minutes. Then I tell the staff my time is also valuable and I don’t want to waste it sitting in a waiting room. I then request rescheduling the appointment.
    However, I believe office staffs are as much at fault as doctors in that they rarely inform the patient the doctor is running late at check-in and offer to reschedule.

  44. shepd says:

    Ahhh, to live in a land where you can actually select from more than one doctor. Sorry, I’d rather wait 30 minutes in the doctor’s office than wait 2 years to replace them.

  45. Buckus says:

    We went to a pediatrician once. 90 minutes (or more) after the appointment time, we finally got into an exam room. The doctor spent 1, maybe 2 minutes total seeing us. The irony here is we picked this doctor in part because of how close he is to our house, but if we had seen a doctor slightly farther away who was more timely it would have been more than worth it in time. We never saw that pediatrician again.

  46. nosense22 says:

    Um… when the next appointment at an OB/GYN is ~4 weeks, and ~6 weeks at a Dermatologist, you have no power or say in anything. Just be thankful they will still see you.

    • Kuchen says:

      Ugh…what is it with dermatology offices? I think they are the worst at scheduling appointments, and the worst I’ve experienced for office waits.

      One (of the many things) I love about seeing a nurse-midwife instead of an OB/GYN is that I’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes. The schedulers at the office are great, too, and make sure they know exactly why you’re coming so they can schedule the right length of visit.

  47. zandar says:

    they’re in there checking facebook? and here I thought a patient either came in late or needed a procedure that the doc didn’t anticipate. How naive I must be.

    One time i was visiting my doc for something and he had a surprise solution for me- outpatient surgery, right there in the office. I’m sure that slowed things down a tad for everyone else. Guess what? medicine is not all balck and white. jesus, get some empathy gene therapy, Phil.

  48. Milehimama says:

    My OB/GYN was sometimes the worst for wait times. I needed an end of day appointment so I would have childcare, and the wait time could be up to an hour!

    But I didn’t mind. I knew to expect it, so I brought a book. And I really, really appreciated the fact that my doctor gave me as much time as I needed, not just popping me in and out in 10 minutes. I knew that if he was concerned about something, he would thoroughly evaluate it and do an ultrasound right then and there- himself- and didn’t begrudge the time he gave to other patients.

  49. jefeloco says:

    I told my Doc every time I waited more than 10 minutes beyond my scheduled time and he replaced his entire office staff. It turns out that they were the ones not telling him that he had patients ready and waiting. The final straw for him was when all of his exam rooms were filled with people (including me) and he walked out of his office after having an extended lunch with his family because his office manager had “cleared his early afternoon schedule.”

  50. 420greg says:

    I had a doctor cancel on me with less than 24 hours notice and made them give me a $75 credit, same thing they charge if you do it to them. It covered my next 3 co-pays.

  51. cocodash says:

    Years ago, I had a comic strip from the newspaper hanging up on a bulletin board. It showed a woman on the phone making an appointment with the receptionist at her doctor’s office and the receptionist is saying, “Yes, he has some time around 3:00 – why don’t you come in at 10:00?”

    Honestly, I think that’s how it works.

  52. 420greg says:

    99.98% of the time it is because they over book.

  53. Shonky McShonk says:

    Book early in the morning
    Ask to be called when the doctor falls more than x minutes behind schedule because there is nothing worse than cutting something else short to get to a dr just to wait and wait.
    If your dr does surgery call in to make sure the office is running on time.
    Make it clear you expect to be called when the dr is running late.
    Get your annual check up and semi annual dental appointment in your birth month. That makes it easier to remember the last time you had an appointment.
    get a copy of test results and keep them. if your dr dies or you move you have a record to show your new dr so the labs they run have a meaning and aren’t just new levels to start from.
    If you don’t like your dr for whatever reason get another one. it does not matter how highly regarded they by their peers, if their bedside or office manner is crap they will treat you like crap. what other doctors think of your doctor doesn’t mean sh*t. How they treat you the patient is what matters.
    Get a dr that gets things done and has a reputation as a fighter not a milquetoast especially if you have a cronic condition.
    Get a dr that uses email especially if you ask questions that do not require immediate response.

  54. pookiener says:

    Most doctor’s offices have to book patients with only 5 or 10 minutes between appointments for one of two reasons: (1) The no-show rate can be very high. You book 6 patients to be seen 10 minutes apart. If 3 of the 6 don’t show, then you can reasonably see 3 in one hour. The flip side of that is if ALL 6 show up. Then you’re trying to see 6 in one hour and that doesn’t give you much wiggle room when you have more than one patient with complications or questions. (2) Most private practice physicians are paid based on the volume of patients seen in a day. More appointments=more patients=more money. If you only see two patients an hour, you will make less than if you try to see 4 or 5. At the clinic my resident hubby trained at they booked 6 patients an hour. Sometimes everybody showed up and sometimes they didn’t. At this clinic, however, the wait times could be directly laid at the feet of the front desk staff. For some reason, patients would show up on time and it would take 30-60 minutes to check them in, gets vitals, etc. All the while, my hubby and his fellow residents were waiting in the back. Even after multiple complaints from the residents and patients, the front desk staff couldn’t seem to step it up.

  55. frak says:

    Make your appointment as early in the morning as possible, before they get backed up.

  56. UltimateOutsider says:

    Waiting rooms are why god invented the podcast.

  57. RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

    Maybe it’s because I have a great doctor, but most of you seem kind of like entitle jerks. Your time is more important than anyone else’s. Now, I agree with the front desk not lying about how long it’s going to take. They should be honest.

    But I’ve had a doctor who kept to the schedule. They guaranteed not to be more than 15 minutes behind. So you got exactly 15 minute with her, no matter you problem. And actually, if there was a complicated case before you that took 25, you got 5 so she could stay on schedule. She walked in, stood with her hand on the door the entire time, and barely listened.

    I’m happy to wait, and when my doctor gets to me, she always apologizes if they’re a little behind. It’s usually because of an emergency (the practice delivers a lot of babies). And I always tell her that I don’t mind, because she spends as much time with me as I need, and I’m glad she does the same with her other patients.

    And I almost never am in there more than 2 hours, total. I have a job. I schedule so that I can be away more than exactly 45 minute. And I don’t sit in the waiting room fuming about how my time is important. These people are dealing with peoples’ health, including yours, and I for one don’t want them to have to rush. I’ve seen that side of medicine. And by the way, I have no feeling in half of my right leg because of a doctor who guaranteed on-time appointments and never listened to symptoms.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Make that “entitled”. Probably a bunch of typos in that long-winded comment.

    • xan says:

      All patients think they are entitled to everything they want.The ones that actually are very thankful for whatever help they get are the ones that Dr’s bend over backwards for.

  58. chart1 says:

    This is exactly why I’ve always just seen the nurse practitioner at the practices that I’ve gone too. Many people refuse to see them because “they’re not real doctors.” I have had far better experiences with them then the “doctors” with the mighty M.D. behind their name. I’ve never waited more than 10 minutes, and have always been treated much better by them. I rarely go to the doctor, and when I do 90% of the time, I already know what I have and just need meds.

  59. SphinxRB says:

    I’ve asked my Doctor for a discount on my next visit co-pay, he even had it waived last time. You’ve got to ask. Many offices charge you for being late, or make you reschedule; well…it’s a two way street, if they are late serving me, they need to pay up as well.

  60. MisterE says:

    One time I told the dentist that I thought he was great, but his staff was incompetent and I told him “You’re fired” Karma has a funny way of working because he’s no longer in business.

  61. mbbbus says:

    While this is a consumer web site, lets be careful to make the distinction between a patient and a customer. The standard of care required for patients (both legally and ethically) is much higher than it needs to be for a customer.
    If you would like your doctor to treat you like a patient rather than a consumer, understand that all of the other folks in the waiting room deserve the same. If someone needs more time and attention in my office, they get it. That requires me to run behind sometimes – always with explanation.
    If you don’t want to be kept waiting, find a doctor who cares more about the “customer service” aspects of his or her practice than the “patient care” issues. Be careful what you wish for.

    • 47ka says:

      + 100.

    • dg says:

      Sorry, but the two are not mutually exclusive. If you know you’re going to be spending more time on “patient care” – then ALLOCATE MORE TIME TO THE APPOINTMENTS. If you can only handle an average of two per hr – allocate that. Don’t squeeze in 4 or 6.

      And don’t you dare get uppidy when I value MY time as much as you value yours. Be ON TIME moron.

  62. Pax says:

    What really gets me is, when Doctors charge fees for being late, or for not cancelling an appointment sufficiently-far in advance … and then can’t live up to their own rules.

  63. Bohemian says:

    We changed PCP clinics two years ago. Our old clinic you expected to wait an hour in the waiting room past your appointment time, they were always overbooked or running behind. Our new PCP clinic is using some new scheduling methods and they work great. Anyone with a semi-emergency that needs to get squeezed in has to see the “on call” doctor. The on call doctor is assigned to do all the urgent, short notice or walk in patients that day so the other doctors can stay on schedule.

    Some specialists I can understand. My pain management doctor also handles people in late stage cancer or recovering from major accidents. Sometimes they have to squeeze in someone having a problem. Since I usually just need prescription renewals I don’t get annoyed if I end up waiting. I try to take the first appointment in the afternoon or plan on allowing extra time.

    The hour plus delay that really made me mad was when I was left waiting while a doctor saw a drug rep.

    Not every delay is stupidity though. I had the pediatrician come in 45 minutes late. She apologized for her being late and explained that someone had brought in a small child that had been in a car accident and not in a car seat. He died in their office before an ambulance could get there. Ugh.

  64. smo0 says:

    Reading some of these stories… I think I had it easy – except one time. I’m pretty sure this doctor had a hand in my Met Life Disability claims being repeatedly denied.

    I was on a LOA from my job for my back. My doctor, at the time, never filled out or faxed the paperwork sent to her by Met Life…. I would call up every day – even go there, to get the information. Eventually I got a letter that she refused to be my doctor – she recommended another one – but said I was too much of a burden on her and her staff.

  65. thesadtomato says:

    I was kept waiting by my specialist for about 3 hours once; I made it into the waiting room, but at that point I had a train to catch. Unless the doc was going to show up in the next 5 minutes and only see me for 5 minutes, I was screwed. So I walked out, got my copay back and rescheduled.

    Next time? I waited an hour, but the doc and every other member of the staff was profusely apologetic about any delay and about my experience the previous time. Obvs they made a note in my chart and it didn’t negatively impact my care because I was seen as “difficult.” I just want to be treated with respect, and I’m a paying customer who will get their money back if I don’t get the service I expect.

  66. amy127 says:

    Last time I went to the doctor he kept me waiting over a half an hour. The first time was over an hour. When I complained this time, he told me they do a volume business and if I didn’t like it, I could find a different doctor. So, I called my network and filed a HUGE complaint and got the names of other doctors to choose from. The gall of the doctor to say that to a patient still floors me.

  67. legolex says:

    I know exactly why I have to wait 30 minutes + past my appointment time at my PCA: Pharmaceutical Reps pushing their drugs. My PCA is a 2 doctor practice and my most recent visit I arrived a little early and sat through FIVE Pharm Reps going in an out meeting with each doctor in between the patient’s appt times. Absolutely ridiculous. I was really angry but I didn’t complain because my appointment wasn’t exactly an emergency.

    I would dump my doctor but I like him, he likes to throw pills at everything (hence the popularity with the reps) and he’s close to my house.

  68. Mary says:

    I not only stopped going to him after that visit, but I have routinely (at least a half dozen times) cautioned locals against visiting his office, hopefully costing him money.

    I belong to a listserv for locals looking for service recommendations and there’s a post about this particular type of specialist at least once a month. And every time I tell the people not to visit his office and offer an alternative.

  69. cybrczch says:

    That’s why I love my doctor’s office. The nurses are friendly, and they’ll let you know if the doctor is running behind when you check in with them. The waiting room is huge, but usually only a couple of people waiting at the most, TV and magazines and newspapers aplenty. Rarely have I had to wait more than 15 minutes before going in.

  70. fontman2008 says:

    DAmm , this is a big problem as the doctors bill our insurance for the time spent in the Office waiting room. If you review your bills . They may charge for an extended visit about 45 60min when the face time is only 15min. I have complained to the insure providers and the let the doctor office know I check the billing time . I also sign out on the sign sheet or at least put the time left. I have caught many doctor offices over billing and incorrectly and made them change my bill . as they do not want to be reported.

  71. bravohotel01 says:

    I typically will set a time limit, unless I HAVE to see him (to get certain meds refilled requires a doctor’s visit, even though it only takes 5 minutes of “how are you doing”)–usually about 1 hour. At the end of the hour, I get up, tell the staff we’ll reschedule and then I leave.

    I finally had it out with my doc after he blew my lunchtime appointment by keeping me waiting over an hour. He tried to weasel out of taking responsibility by saying that “all doctors run behind” (why isn’t time-management a required course in med school?) “Fine,” I said, “How long do you typically run over?” He told me about 40 minutes.

    So now when I make my appointments, I book it in my calendar for 35 minutes *after* the appointed time. If my appointment is at 3:00pm, then my calendar says 3:35pm. I arrive on time and after a short wait, I get to see him.

    Oh, always bring something to read! It keeps the blood pressure down. :)

  72. mcgyver210 says:

    I have decided if they can impose a fee for me being late or not showing up without any agreement on my part I will do the same in the future.

    I have noticed over the years doctors seem to overbook like airlines & expect you to just live with it.

  73. jesusofcool says:


  74. energynotsaved says:

    I was married to the doctor for 30 years. Come to find out, he was always late for your appointment because he was banging his nurse at the Notell Motel. I got my std test. You probably should get yours, too.

  75. witchdoc says:

    First, no one gets more than 24 hours to a day, thus, MY time , and yours, is exactly as valuable. There is NO excuse for repeated delays of more than 30 minutes, for any appointment. If a Doctor, or his staff, is unable to handle the flow of patients then I sure would not, and DO not trust them with my health care, nor should you.
    I am, intimately, familiar with the nature of the emergencies that occur in a health practice. If emergencies occur to the point that patients wait for more than 20 minutes on a regular basis, there is a problem needs attention far more urgently than I need to let incompetent people touch my fair form!
    I can, and have, fired a Dr. for repeated scheduling problems.

    This does not make me a difficult patient, it makes the Doctor who treats patients with disrespect unacceptable, even to other Docs, you think that word does not get around?
    I am appalled and disheartened that any Dr. would expect people to wait two hours and even more appalled and disheartened that anyone would put up with such horrible treatment in the first place!
    How on earth can even the dimmest bulb think that being insulted and treated like crap in the waiting room is going to result in competent health care?
    It is morally offensive to see a Doctor abuse medical privilege and it is equally offensive to see patients tolerate such abuse.

  76. DocinNJ says:

    This makes me (and probably most doctors) upset.

    We’re not a beauty salon…
    We’re not a body shop…


    As a surgical subspecialist, I often will have between 30-40 patients in the office; at the same time, I am on call for the ER and OR, and will often have cases scheduled in the late afternoon. I then get to round at the hospital, often seeing patients who have no insurance (and usually don’t pay me for my time or services.)
    I am then usually allowed to go home, where patients often call in the middle of the night, waking up my entire family, asking questions that usually could have waited a few more hours (and unlike an attorney or another professional, I don’t get paid for telephone counsel.)
    With all of this, and “medical reform”, I’m barely covering my bills.

    If a patient comes in, and he has a new diagnosis of cancer, I WILL spend more time with him than the 10 minutes the insurance companies want me to. That means that, yes, you WILL have to wait a bit longer.
    If someone has a surgical emergency and I have to leave the office to run and do surgery, that means you can reschedule, or you can wait.
    If a patient books an appointment for something simple, and it turns out that he has a complex problem, I will need to address that, and, yes, your appointment may be delayed. I cannot control for that.

    People who aren’t in the medical/surgical profession really have no idea of what is involved.
    If you want someone who will see you for your 10-15 minutes at the allotted time, then:
    1) find a doctor who will cut corners
    2) Practice exactly what you will say, keep it to 2-3 minutes, or even better, make a printed paragraph to hand to the doctor/medical assistant
    3) do NOT have more than one thing wrong with you that day.
    4) do NOT have a new diagnosis that requires extra care
    5) do NOT have a complex medical history.

    Most of my patients do not have any problem with me if it turns out that their appointment is delayed. If they do, they can see my physicians assistant, who often has fewer complex patients for the day, or they can see the next subspecialist 70 miles up the road.

  77. Aus-Tentatious says:

    Here in Australia they’re trying to bring in penalty fees if you’re as little as ten minutes getting to the doctors. However if they’re running late, the Health Minister says too bad, you’ll jus thave to wait…

  78. Moosenogger says:

    I have to wait at least 30 minutes past my scheduled appointment time whenever I go in to see my doctor. It’s currently not a terrible issue, since I’m a college student and tend to only schedule doctor’s appointments on days where there’s nothing else for me to do. However, the next time I’m in there for 45 minutes +, I’m going to force myself to say something. It’s not fair to me or everyone else in the waiting room if the doctor/nurses are taking ages to get anything done.

  79. MotorboatJones says:

    I put nasty comments in the Notes section of my checks. I know it doesn’t solve the problem but I know someone is reading it. Now every time I leave, the counter chick looks for any comments and then smiles. Often times, I write, “waiting room is balmy or has a fly.”

  80. Ben_Q2 says:

    True story, only it was not my Doctor I was called in to work on one of their systems. I get paid two ways. This way was by the hour plus drive time (I get the 1st hour when I want in the door and start billing at the sametime). I told the lady who I was and what and why I was there. I had her sign my time sheet. There had to be over 50 people there (about 8:30am). After about 10 mins I went again and told her who I was and why I was there. She told me in a rude voice I do not care take a sit. I had my laptop and just play a game. Every 30 mins or so i would tell her again. Again she told me I do not care who you are take a seat. This went on for a very long time. No one was being seen. It was 5pm and the OM (someone I asked time and time again to be see) came out and said they where waiting for the Tech to fix their computers so they could type in their files. She was sending all these people home, by now there was way more then 50 poeple (I never counted there really was no room left) She also went on to say that he is running very late and could not get a hold of him(me). Remember this was a time when Cells phones where new.

    This guy tells her “Bullshit” every 30 mins he went up to the desk and told the lady who he was and why he was here. He even ask to see you and you where to busy to see him. At that point she look around and I said I have been here since 8:30 (they called me at 7:30am).

    I go back she never said a word to me. I fix the computer in about 20 mins. Handed her a bill and she said it should be for 1 hour and 1 hour driving time. I told her no, I was here at 8:30 talk to the lady that had told me she does not care who I am and why I was there.

    You guess it, I had to sue them (Yes I did go to law school). Yes I won. The Judge in a nutshell said I was on time. They own me for 9 hours plus 1 for driving time.

  81. philcolby says:

    Some of these comments are ridiculous!

    I’m an interventional cardiologist. I have a busy clinic and I perform complex procedures. Not infrequently, procedures run longer than expected or emergencies arise that require immediate attention (i.e. emergent angioplasty/stenting for acute heart attacks). And sometimes, despite the best scheduling, clinic will be delayed.

    I always make time for my patients as well and if they have questions, I will answer them without checking the clock. Unfortunately, this can spiral down stream. Often some patients, will arrive late and we will still try to accomodate them due to the nature of their illness (you can’t tell patients with unstable cardiovascular disease to reschedule). Also, we often have to overbook to squeeze in patients that need to be seen as soon as possible. Despite these problems, we rarely run more than 30-45 minutes behind schedule.

    I wish I had time to take a breath and play Tetris or surf the web. Who in this climate of declining CMS reimbursement can afford to do so?

  82. xan says:

    Have any of you ever worked for a Dr’s Office.
    I am currently working for a psych office and there is a lot going on behind the scenes.So lots of the complainers should shut up.
    1.New patients usually come in exactly at there appointment time,even though instructed to come in early for New Patient paperwork,so thats more time for them to fill it out,us to check eligibilty/authorization.Prep the chart,get the copay.Which all slows down the time and throws off the schedule. And then you got the stupid ass parent that doesnt speak english so they have to have their 8 year old explain the paperwork for them.
    2.Lots of loser ass patients who no show their appointments then call a day later freaking out cause they are out of their adderall prescription and will surely die if they go off of it cause they have “adult ADD” or they need their xanax asap because their cat accidently dropped all of it in the sink,So we have to schedule them as emergency patients cause they would STFU and wont stop calling us over and over.
    3. The dr has to make follow up calls with patients who forgot how to take their meds or have another complaint they forgot to mention in their session,Dr has to review lab tests, go thru the next patients charts. They also have to finish compliant paperwork for the patient they previously saw.
    4. I have a hit list of all the patients that do complain and bitch to me.We hate them.I think basically all the front staff hate you.the complainers.There are patients that actually know the deal and appreciate the best we can do to fill your drug abusing asses and we normally bend over backwards for.You nice to us we are cool with you.When you act like a fool in the office we remember and you cannot make it up by any apology. Just cause you have a condition doesn’t make it right for you to yell at another human being
    5. If you dont like the office,you are free to leave and find another dr.No insurance just has one place to send you.I tell patients all the time,You can call your insurance and not have to come here. They give this funny look like Omg how can you say that. And I simply go,well its the truth why torture yourself to this if you are unhappy with a place.I hate the dr running late as much as you cause I have to explain each time to each patient some stupid excuse on why you are waiting an extra 15 mins.
    I can go on and on…but no one will never understand.

    • hairyseaword says:

      I think you’ve proven that a lot of patients’ problems are probably not the doctors’ fault, rather issues with their spiteful, angry office staffers.

      Isn’t there a DMV somewhere hiring? You’d fit right in.

  83. Dallas_shopper says:

    I recently “dumped” a doctor that kept me waiting for up to an hour each time I showed up ON TIME for my appointments.

    It’s not like he had a huge emergency like surgery or a baby to deliver. He was a dermatologist. My OB/GYN, on the other hand, has only missed one appointment due to a delivery.

  84. stlbud says:

    I’ve had good luck by making it very clear that I expect the appointment be kept. If the Doctor is too busy, or late, I let the staff know:
    1) I’m busy too
    2) Not keeping appointments is rude
    3) I let them know I’m leaving

    If they try to charge me for missing/canceling the appointment I point out, I kept the appointment, they are the ones who failed. I then proceed to tell them I’d be happy to charge them for the missed appointment. It is amazing how turning their policy around on them gets their attention.

  85. stlbud says:

    I’ve had good luck by making it very clear that I expect the appointment be kept. If the Doctor is too busy, or late, I let the staff know:
    1) I’m busy too
    2) Not keeping appointments is rude
    3) I let them know I’m leaving

    If they try to charge me for missing/canceling the appointment I point out, I kept the appointment, they are the ones who failed. I then proceed to tell them I’d be happy to charge them for the missed appointment. It is amazing how turning their policy around on them gets their attention.

  86. lyllydd says:

    Nice for people who live in NY or SF. The rest of us are SOL.

  87. jc says:

    File a complaint with your state’s Board of Registration in Medicine (as it’s called here in MA). Doctors are required by law to address all written complaints, and they will likely spend more time composing their response than you spent in the waiting room.

    I did this once after a really egregious incident. You can’t get that time back, but filing a complaint surely gets their attention.

  88. Frau Eva says:

    I can be understanding if, you know, I’m told something is going on. But I’ve NEVER had that happen when a doctor is late. EVER.

    And I’m generally more understanding of those who have practices where you can have a medical emergency that screws up the schedule, or if it happens rarely…but there’s no reason for a dermatologist or a foot doctor to keep you waiting. My dermatologist(who I LOVE) was apologizing profusely for making me wait for not even five minutes! Now I wonder how the heck my old skin doctors managed to keep me waiting for a half hour or more. He’s open and willing to explain just about everything and still manages to be exceedingly prompt.