Is This Any Way To Run a Business?


Yesterday, my Aunt had a doctor’s appointment at 4:00, and we made sure to arrive at the right time for this visit. The first thing we noticed was how crowded the office was, and my Aunt asked the receptionist if it was usually this busy, and she said yes. My Aunt then asked if there was going to be a delay, and the receptionist said that the doctor was about an hour behind.

I appreciated the honesty from the receptionist; she could have just said, “He’s a few minutes behind schedule.” That still doesn’t make it right or any less annoying, but an hour wait is doable.

Well 5:00 came and went, as did 5:30, and 6:00. Finally, at 6:05, my Aunt was called into one of the treatment rooms.

Now I understand that delays are common in other situations, like waiting for the cable guy, or a repairman, or an airline to take-off. But at the same time, those professions/industries are also generally ridiculed by the public for their poor customer service.

But I think a doctor should be held to a higher standard, and that there is no excuse for falling that far behind in your schedule. I understand that emergencies may crop up, but that did not appear to be the case yesterday.

I really can’t say what the problem was, but it seems like the situation could be easily fixed. If, as the receptionist told us, the office is like this every Monday, then something should be done to change that. Schedule fewer appointments, or make more realistic appointment times.

I also felt bad for the office staff. The women working in the office were quite nice, but it appeared as if they had to stay until the final patient was finished. We didn’t get out of the office until 7:00, even though the posted office hours are 8:00-5:00.

So my Aunt was there for a total of three hours, of which 15 minutes was spent with the doctor.

Now the doctor seems to be a nice guy, and the treatment he provided to my Aunt seemed to be effective, but I think there is more to being a doctor than just medical skill.

The following is from a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath:

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

And in this case, a sincere “Sorry I made you wait” from the doctor to my Aunt could have made yesterday’s experience so much better.

Like I said earlier, the solution to many problems is often pretty simple.

2 thoughts on “Is This Any Way To Run a Business?

  1. You have valid points. However, as a physician myself, the problem is sometimes our own doing as you eluded to. Being overbooked, excessive talking to staff about things other than patients, pharm reps, etc. On another token, you as a patient should also understand that you are not the only one to be seen that day, nor have the only issues that he will have to solve/fix that day. Of course if you are the 1st patient and he/she is 30 min late to your appt then that is the doing of that physician most likely. It is entirely acceptable to be 15-25 min behind after 7-8 patients in the morning and afternoon. For example, your 1st patient is a simple cough visit, but doesn’t get there until 845 (which is his scheduled) time. By the time that patient is checked in, insurance checked, vitals taken, and EMR updated, it is now 9am. You are already 15min behind! If every single patient did that imagine what the wait would be. And most patients have more complaints once the MD is in the room, and you we should try within a reasonable effort, to make time for that, but that “time” builds up. We also have to handle “emergency” calls in the middle of clinic, calls from other providers about a patient they are seeing, etc. Don’t forget we still have to document in the EMR as well, either after or during your visit. So like anything else in life… there is blame to go around. We all should try and play our part a little better.


    1. Thank you, Doctor, for your thoughtful comments. I realize that sometimes things can get out of control and throw off a doctor’s schedule. I think such situations could be resolved by simply apologizing to the people waiting and giving an estimate of when they might be seen. And the same could be done from a patient who is running late; call the office to apologize and let them know, and see if the appointment needs to be rescheduled.


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