Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Quality Not Quantity — Why You Need to Wait Patiently at the Doctor’s Office

By Carlo Pandian

Often when you visit the doctor's office or the hospital, you end up waiting for your appointment. This can be frustrating, particularly if you need to get to work. However, it can actually be a good thing when you are left waiting around. This is a key sign of quality health care.

The standard or private doctor appointment is 15 minutes long. However, doctors deal with a huge variety of health problems every day. It will simply not be possible to fit some consultations and check-ups into 15 minutes.

Good doctors will see their patient for as long as they need, and this can lead to delays. Some problems will not fit themselves neatly into a predesignated time slot.  A patient may have a serious health issue that takes a bit more time to deal with. If a doctor is always on time, this could indicate that he or she is more focused on the time and not the patients.

Urgent Appointments

Another problem that can lead to delays in the doctor’s waiting room is urgent appointments. Sometimes patients will arrive at the surgery door with an urgent problem. This may mean your doctor has to see them straight away, pushing your appointment back.

Doctors cannot stick rigidly to the appointments schedule.  If there is a medical emergency, then they will need to prioritize. If you had an urgent problem, you would want to know the doctor would fit you in as soon as possible and not make you wait until a free time slot becomes available!

Enhance Your Calm

You do need to exercise some patience when attending doctor’s appointments. Expect delays and plan accordingly. There is no point getting upset about a situation that neither you nor your doctor can do much about. Here are a few tips that can help you keep your cool in the doctor’s waiting room:
  • Allow yourself plenty of time for your appointment so that if you do have to wait you will not feel stressed out.  
  • Take a book or magazine with you to keep you occupied while you wait.  
  • You could take a personal music player as well, but make sure the music is not loud enough to annoy the others in the waiting room (and so that you can still hear when your name is called).
  • If you have young children with you, take a few quiet toys for them to play with. Some doctors’ waiting rooms will have children’s toys and books available as well.
  • If you have been waiting more than 30 minutes for your appointment, then check back in at the reception desk.  
  • Enquire politely if they know how long the delay will be. This will give you some idea of how much longer you will have to wait.  
  • If there is a very long delay, you might want to consider rescheduling your appointment if it is not urgent and you have to get back to work. 
  • Good doctors are in high demand, and this can increase waiting times for appointments. For basic health care it can sometimes be quicker to see one of the physician’s nurses.  
  • Practice nurses help physicians see more patients. They can provide treatments like blood tests and health check-ups, and it can be easier to get appointments.
Remember, when doctors are running late it is not because they are disorganised or taking a long break. They are not doing it on purpose to mess up your day. They treat sick people, and not all accidents or illnesses are straightforward. They will take as long as they need on each of their patients, and this includes you!

Carlo Pandian is a health writer and blogs about well-being and health care services at Blossoms and other medical centers. When he’s not online, Carlo enjoys running and playing table tennis at his local association.

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