I fell not long ago (I’m a klutz what can I say) and came down on my thumb. It was sore, but didn’t appear to be broken, so I didn’t have it looked at by the doctor. Not long after, I noticed my thumb was still sore and I was unable to bend it completely. I made an appointment with an orthopedist. I opted not to see my primary physician because I knew she’d just refer me to an orthopedist anyway. Unfortunately, the orthopedist’s next available appointment was a month away but I took it anyway. I decided to see my primary physician to find out if there was some way to stabalize it until my orthopedist appointment so I called her office to make an appointment.
First of all, the doctor’s office has one of those stupid automated phone systems that force you to punch in several numbers, be put on hold, finally someone gets on the line, asks if you can hold and then puts you back on hold before you can even answer. We’re not talking about a huge medical facility here, it’s a little home-town hospital. In fact, they advertise themselves as “The Best Little Hospital in Central New York”. Anyway, a real person finally picked up the phone and I explained the situation. She told me I was luckily, they had a few cancellations that day and gave me an 11:30 appointment.
I got to the doctor’s office at 11:15, checked in and took my seat. I always arrive early because I feel it’s the courteous thing to do. I sat, and I sat, and I waited. They have a clock on the wall in the waiting area which actually lets you know how long they’ve kept you waiting. At about 12:30…an hour past my appointment, a woman called me over to the “walk-in center” desk (where you go if you don’t have a primary physician or your primary is unable to see you when you’re actually sick). She explained the doctor was running behind and asked if I minded being seen at the walk-in clinic. I asked how long it will be before my primary could see me. She said about 45 min. to an hour. So I asked how long it would be before the walk-in doctor could see me. She said about 45 min. to an hour. Was I missing something? Why would I want to wait the same amount of time to see an unknown doctor as I would have to wait to see my regular doctor? I told her I’d just wait to see my usual doctor. I told her I had another appointment and I’d be late if I didn’t leave right then and come back. I explained it would take me less than 15 min. and I’d be back long before the 45 min. to an hour. She said that if I left right then I’d have to schedule a new appointment. What?!!! I said that was ridiculous. I was being made to wait 2 hours past my scheduled appointment in the first place. She actually asked me what I needed to do that was so important. I told her I was dropping something off at my son’s school and that seemed to satisfy her. She said she’d tell the nurses I was leaving for 15 min. and I’d be back. They said that was fine. How nice of them.
I returned before my alloted 15 min. was up and took my seat. I waited again, waited some more and then I went up to the front desk to ask what the hold up was this time. The receptionist asked who I was and when I told her she said, “Oh, they called you and when you didn’t respond we assumed you had left. The doctor is at lunch now”. I couldn’t believe the stupidity. The inept way this office was run was unbelievable. I tried to explain what had transpired and all she said was, “I’m sorry, I’m just the messenger”.
If I had kept the doctor waiting nearly 3 hours I’d be turned away with a stern word or two. Do doctors think their time is more valuable than mine? I had taken time off from work to go to this appointment. I’m a preschool teacher. Is my job any less important than my doctor’s job???? Obviously doctor’s offices are over-scheduling. And, obviously they can’t handle the amount of patients they agree to see. Are their car loans and mortgages that high? Is the cost of playing golf skyrocketing that quickly? Or perhaps liability insurance is too costly. Perhaps they shouldn’t make so many mistakes when diagnosing and treating patients in the first place.
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