How Long Should You Wait At A Doctor’s Office?

Yesterday, I had a 10:30 a.m. appointment with my doc for my two month, post-surgery, check-up.

I drove forty five minutes to the appointment.

When I arrived, there was not a vacant seat in the doctor’s waiting room.

“We’re running a little behind,” said the receptionist.

Fine.

It happens.

I knew my appointment itself would only take five minutes tops.

(The doc would look at my incision and tell me what I’m now allowed to do and/or should still avoid doing.)

I had allotted an hour and a half for a five minute appointment …

I’ve come to expect waiting at doctor’s offices.

In fact, I had taken the morning off work (no work = no pay) just for this appointment.

Over the course of the next hour, a few people tired of waiting and asked to reschedule their appointments.

One woman came in, pitched a fit when she heard she would have a thirty minute wait,

AND WAS REWARDED BY BEING USHERED IN JUST A FEW MINUTES LATER.

Yes, she behaved badly and it paid off … for her.

For those of us who had appointments prior to hers,

And also witnessed her poor behavior and the resulting outcome –

Frustration grew.

At 11:50 … one hour and twenty minutes after my scheduled appointment,

I was still seated in the waiting room.

There was no indication I would be called back soon.

In fact, there had been no communication from the staff since I first entered the office an hour and twenty minutes prior.

I knew, from past experience, once I got ushered to an actual exam room,

I would most likely have to wait another twenty minutes prior to seeing the doctor.

That would bring my total wait close to the two hour point.

Why make an appointment at a specific time if you can’t see the patient until two hours later?

And if the daily schedule has gotten *that* screwed up,

Why isn’t the receptionist calling patients to re-schedule instead of having them wait two hours (or longer) after arriving?

Although I had taken the morning off work, I hadn’t taken the afternoon off.

I (nicely) informed the receptionist I had been waiting an hour and twenty minutes,

And that I could not wait any longer.

“When can we reschedule you?” she asked.

“I don’t know that I will be rescheduling,” I answered.

Do I want to waste another few hours of my life for a doctor to “look” at my incision?

Yes, it would be nice to know exactly when I can return to my pre-surgical workout routine,

But not getting that information was really the only thing I missed out on.

And now is when I tell you I think Dr. Sanjay Grover is an excellent surgeon.

I do.

I have no regrets about using him,

And I would use him again.

But …?

If you’re going to pay extra to go to the “best” surgeon in an area, you expect his/her office to run relatively smoothly.

In this case, it’s definitely an area for improvement.

I lost a morning of pay,

A morning of my life, for that matter.

And I never did see the doctor.

I wish I could say my experience was an isolated incident …

The type of thing that could happen, once in a great while, at any doctor’s office.

But …?

I don’t think it was an isolated incident.

(I write this based on other waits I’ve experienced at Dr. Grover’s office and after reading online complaints about wait times at his office.)

Dr. Grover did call me later.

I was driving so the call went to voicemail.

His message apologized for the wait and suggested I reschedule at a time that worked better for my schedule.

???

I had actually scheduled THIS appointment at a time that worked best for my schedule.

Allowing an hour and a half for a 5 minute appointment seems like very generous time planning on my part.

I also got two (??) voicemail messages from his office manager.

Both messages from the office manager apologized for the wait.

I think, perhaps, she didn’t realize she’d already left one message and called back to leave another?

Bottom line –

I like Dr. Grover a lot personally.

I think he’s a very excellent surgeon.

I think his office itself, the way it is run, is doing damage to his otherwise stellar reputation.

I’ve raved about him here on 24 before.

I know people often “listen” to my recommendations.

That’s why I feel obligated to share the negative as well as the positive.

And, that brings me to ask ….

Have you ever experienced a situation at an appointment like I did yesterday?

How long, in your opinion, is an acceptable wait at a doctor’s office?

7 Responses to “How Long Should You Wait At A Doctor’s Office?”

  1. Missy Stalcup

    I used to see a very nice dermatologist. Wait times were average, until one appointment. I was taken to the exam room and waited and waited. He never came in. I finally opened the door and found him in his office eating lunch and the staff was also at lunch. They forgot about me! That was my last visit!

  2. Mj

    I have to say I would not have waited that long nor would I have been as rude as the woman you mentioned. I personally have never had to wait long to be seen after a scheduled appointment, however; I did schedule a colonoscopy once and had to drink a gallon of horrible stuff they gave me the day prior to my appointment. When I arrived for my appointment they said they didn’t have me on their schedule.
    Well the thought of not only having to reschedule but to have to drink that stuff again I may have become rude like the lady you mentioned. Although I had to wait a bit, they did perform the procedure. Anyone who has ever had to have a colonoscopy will tell you the stuff you have to drink is disgusting.

    • Suzanne

      That stuff is terrible.
      I’d insist on being seen if I drank that too!

  3. LisaK

    I have a doctor that I have to see every 4 months and a typical 20 minute appointment usually takes about 3 hours of my time, not to mention a 45 minute commute time each way. I have gone there for 25 years and have complained, left and rescheduled many times. I know I have to block out half a day when I go there and it is so irritating. I’ve considered changing doctors many times but he is one of the few and best in my area. So i am stuck for now and I hate it! It is completely unacceptable and I’ve mentioned it to him many times. Anyway thanks for the vent 🙂

    • Suzanne

      That really is unacceptable.
      I suppose, if it happens every time, you can plan for it and take a book/computer/ipad or something. Still, there doesn’t seem to be any good excuse for such a long wait.

  4. Stacy G

    I waited FOREVER at the new rheumatology doc that I saw for the first time a few weeks ago. Actually, I think the only reason I saw him after an hour and a half is it was getting to be their lunch time and they started moving faster. The most annoying part were the little kids that people had brought to the appointment. One was crying, jumping and moving chairs around. It wasn’t the kids fault but you would think you would leave yr kid home or bring him some entertainment for the wait.

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