Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Really long doctor visit waits and the parents who put up with them

A week ago, I took Max to our pediatrician for his annual checkup and waited a full hour. When it came time for Sabrina's checkup, I decided to be proactive. I reached out to the office manager and asked if she'd call me when we should come in for our 7:15 appointment. We spoke at 7, and she said she'd let me know. At 7:40, she said to come in 10 minutes. We did. And we sat and sat and sat. At some point, I lost it and told the office manager how inefficiently the practice was run. She noted that I could take the form to switch practices.

We saw the doctor nearly an hour after we arrived, and a full hour and a half past when our appointment was supposed to be. He apologized but still: a-r-g-h. And this was far from the first occasion where we waited for an extraordinarily long amount of time to be seen.

I really like and respect our pediatrician, who has seen Max since he was born and who has always given us solid advice and encouragement. I consider most of the other doctors in the practice good, too. My children are comfortable going there; Max has been known to enjoy it. The office is super-convenient to our house; earlier in the day, our sitter dashed Ben over there for a bad cough. All this is why I've been hesitant to switch.

I know of other parents who have left this practice because of wait issues. When I posted in my moms group last night about what happened, some mentioned that. Others urged me to speak with the doctor. I plan to email him, but I doubt it will make any difference.

There have been occasions in my life when I've waited long stretches of time at visits to specialists, for myself or for Max. Any doctor gets backed up at times. I understand. Last week, the pediatrician had an emergency visit involving a child with respiratory issues. But when long waits are a pattern, I'd say that's a problem.

If something isn't working for me in all other parts of my life, I change it. I'm just stuck on this one.


  1. Please tell the doctor directly about the abusive comments. Don't leave messages or e-mail because the office manager can delete those. This happened with a dentist I know. He never received any of the e-mails or voice messages about his office manager and receptionist being verbally abusive. He only found out because the ticked off son of a patient confronted him about the abuse at a social gathering. When he started checking with current and former patients he found there had been a lot of problems he wasn't aware of.

  2. In my opinion, for a pediatrician this is totally unacceptable. In particular since it happens all the time. Understandably, there are going to be those days when there is an emergency or extra time is required. With over 20 years of taking kids to specialists (at a teaching children's hospital), this is on the verge of being unacceptable there too. I agree with the above poster - speak with the doctor, don't rely on messages or email.

    Good luck. Let us know what you learn.

  3. Totally agree. I had an 8:45 appt today before work, planned so that I could make it to school by 9:45 in time for my first class. At 9:15 the doctor walked in the examining room! How can you be made to wait at 8:45 in the morning? I am a grown up and not a kid, but still have a schedule I need to keep. It's really rude!

  4. Years ago, when The Joint Commission for Accreditation of Hospitals expanded its purview to include clinics, regional workshops were presented to disseminate the JCAH standards. "Clinic flow" was an important component, and their research had shown that if the waiting room was visible to the doctors, wait times for patients shrank dramatically! This was presented as the most cost-effective clinic design strategy for efficient flow. Given that we can't remodel our providers' clinics, we need to do the next best thing and let them know--in person--each and every time there is a long wait. And, even in the hierarchical world of medicine, it is the duty of the front office staff to keep the medical personnel aware of wait times.

  5. It is frustrating to have to wait but I always appreciate that our pediatrician always works my kids in if there is a somewhat urgent issue such as a bad cough and never makes us feel rushed during the visit
    There is probably a parent and child who had to wait while your sitter "dashed" Ben in for his cough


Thanks for sharing!

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