Waiting for the Doctor

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Here's one of those age-old questions: Why does it seem that a doctor doesn't see you on time, even when you have an appointment? It could be because both of you are at fault!

Your doctor could overbook and medical emergencies happen that bump your appointment. Or you don't tell the whole truth about what you really need to see the doctor for, and that wastes everyone's time. Here are some solutions to that time crunch.

“There was one time my appointment was at 10:15, and I was seen at 12 o'clock,” says one patient we caught up with at the doctor’s office. “I have a child and waiting with a child seems a little longer,” says another.

“One of the things that can keep up waiting in the waiting room is that when patients make an appointment, they may say that one thing is what they want to address, but during that appointment time, they may bring up other problems,” says Dr. Ted Lawson
the Mountain View Medical Group in Colorado Springs. A scheduled 10-minute office visit quickly turns into 30-minutes. What you do, or didn't do, affects everyone else's scheduled time.

Here's your checklist to keep the schedule from backing up for everyone:

  • Be honest about what you want to see the doctor about. Don't hold back anything. That way you get enough time to talk about it

  • Don't “stockpile.” In other words, don't let your medical problems add up---thinking you'll wait to see the doctor with all of them at the same time. That’s a big time waster.

  • Write down your symptoms. How long you've had the problem and what you've done at home to treat it..

  • Don't leave any detail left unsaid, like recent weight loss or medication changes..

  • Don't forget the process includes paperwork. Plan 10-15 minutes before your scheduled time to get that done.

    Another factor to consider: Emergencies happen, so you need to be patient and flexible.

    Also, don't be shy to ask the receptionist for a new appointment time. You don't have to wait. Your time is just as valuable.

    The best appointment times to keep you and the doctor running on time are first in the morning or right after lunch. Dr. Lawson says he books on average about 20-25 patients per day. He says if a health care office is efficient, that should be no problem.