Long wait at the Doctors office? Blame the patients

Anthony Youn, celebrity plastic surgeon, says so over at CNN

So who’s to blame if your doctor is running late?
Blame the patients.
There are three common scenarios in which patients can cause a doctor to run behind schedule.
Some patients just show up late. One-third of my patients arrive for their appointments at least 10 minutes after their scheduled time. New consultations often arrive as much as 20 or 30 minutes late.
My staff reschedules many of them in order to avoid delaying everyone else. Some patients, however, get angry and confrontational when they’re turned away. So I try to accommodate them as much as possible to avoid an ugly scene.
Emergencies happen. As a plastic surgeon, I occasionally have to deal with situations that must be taken care of immediately. When this occurs, I may have to delay my patients’ appointments to tend to them.
Most patients are understanding, but not all. One breast augmentation patient stormed out of the office and never returned after being told I was running late. Apparently, she didn’t appreciate being delayed for a drunk whose lip was bitten off by his Pomeranian.
The patient pulls an “Oh, by the way.” Some patients suddenly bring up new, complex medical issues at the tail end of their appointments. This causes their visit to extend way past the allotted time.
Here is a typical scenario: It’s the end of a 10-minute office visit, scheduled as a follow-up for high blood pressure. It’s been 12 minutes, the patient has her prescriptions, and the visit is concluding.
“Marie, I think we’ve covered your blood pressure issues pretty well. Do you have any further questions?”
“No, we’re all set.”
The doctor begins to open the door and step out.
“Oh, doctor, by the way, I forgot to tell you. I had chest pain last night and passed out in the bathtub. And I have bloody diarrhea.”
One “Oh, by the way” patient can single-handedly cause a physician to run 30 minutes behind. Two “Oh, by the way” patients can create utter mayhem. They are the bane of a scheduler’s existence.

The above scenarios are all too common-place and are a big reason why patients end up waiting and waiting at the doctors office. It’s pretty rare that appointment times can be kept. In Malaysia it’s even more problematic as the concept of appointments aren’t known to some patients who will just walk in and expect to be seen without appointments (and immediately too!)
The only way the clinic can keep time would be
1) All patients arrive on time. The moment any one is late, that would really mess things up.
2) There are no medical emergencies.
Since 1 and 2 are inevitable, it’s a no-brainer that patients will have to be patient and wait at the doctor’s office.


Malaysian physician, haematologist, blogger, web and tech enthusiast