Irritation in the Doctor’s Office

In one of the many interesting posts in this weeks Grand Rounds keagirl writes about patient behavior that irritates her. A couple of her irritants are a bit amusing given many of our common experiences at the doctor’s office.

Cellphones: I cannot describe how irking it is to enter the examining room and find the patient talking on the cellphone. ….
Even ruder is when I am talking to the patient and the cellphone rings, and (s)he actually ANSWERS the damn thing in the middle of the consultation. I wait for the (usually inane) conversation to end while silently fuming inside.

Last first. I agree 100% about the patient that answers their cellphone in the midst of a consultation. Hell I’d be tempted to make them an ex-patient!
However, and I’m sure Dr. keagirl promptly attends to her patients after they have arrived in the examining room, it seems perfectly reasonable that a patient might make a phone call while waiting for the Doctor to arrive. Especially after browsing the same year old magazines that were in the rack lthe ast time they were there, reading all the patient literature, studying all the nifty body diagrams on the wall, and still no Doctor. Hey, if the Doctor isn’t attending to you in 5 minutes or so do what makes sense to you to properly utilize your scarce time. Very few will get to the cellphone stage if attended to promptly.

Tardiness: this is a frequent event. If the patient is just a few minutes late (10 or 15 mins), I will see them. However, if they are 20 to 30 mins late, and they haven’t called ahead to let us know, I want them to reschedule, and I am astounded at how many patients get thoroughly unhappy about this.

Yep, it is perfectly reasonable to expect us to call ahead if we are going to be late. On the other hand, what is our recourse when the Doctor keeps us sitting in the waiting room 10, 20, 30, 45 minutes or longer past our scheduled time? How about the Doctor calling the patient and telling the patient that they are behind schedule? How about a 50% or 100% discount if the Dr. keeps someone waiting more than 30 minutes past the scheduled time. Yea, I know it would mostly benefit the insurance companies but the gesture can be important.

Many human irritants can look a lot different when seen through other eyes.