I finally broke down and made a doctor’s appointment today. After 2 weeks of coughing and hacking my brains out I decided that I had had a enough and I’d better go get checked out. Even though I was 99% sure I had bronchitis (my own self-diagnosis based on my nursing expertise – lol) I figured that getting an expert medical opinion wouldn’t hurt. So I called my doctor’s office first thing this morning, got an appointment for 10:45 am, and resigned myself to the fact that at least I would only have to drag one of my kids with me for the ordeal. Of course that one child was my very active and often demanding toddler, who has the attention span of a gnat and in no way likes to sit still or wait for anything. But this couldn’t be put off any longer so I was going to have to keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.
So we arrive at the doctor’s office about 10 minutes before my scheduled appointment, being that I had to update my insurance information and they tell you to come early to allow time to fill out the paperwork. The waiting room wasn’t all that full and there was only on person on the list before me (who was seeing a totally different practitioner in the office) so I was optimistic that the wait time to get in and see the doctor wouldn’t be that long. Oh how wrong I was….While initially and successfully placating my toddler with my phone (she loves to look at the pictures) I watched those who had been in the waiting room when I arrived get called in. Then I watched a new wave of people come into the waiting room and also get called in. Okay I thought…”Deep breaths, be patient. There are multiple practitioners on so you can’t control which physician is on time.” Yet it was getting harder and harder to remain patient as then the next wave of patients checked in and we were still sitting there. And now, my toddler, who was well-beyond her distraction point was starting to cause a scene. Of course we’d been waiting approximately 25 minutes by this time and in all fairness she’d been very good up until this point.
Tick tock. At thirty five minutes of waiting, not including the 10 minutes we were there prior to my scheduled appointment, I was beginning to lose it. By now my toddler was inconsolable as she wanted to play with a little girl in the waiting room who was clearly sick and I kept having to drag her away. The waiting room was so jammed packed with people at this point that I couldn’t have her running around, but at the same time I was unable to successfully convince her to stay in one spot. There was crying and tears, kicking and fussing, and one sick mommy who was now at her wits end. I was half-tempted to let her continue her tantrum thinking “maybe it will get my name called faster.” Instead I gave the one nurse a pleading look of despair and mouthed, “How much longer?” as I couldn’t keep this up any longer. There was pity in her eyes and she told me she’d check. About five minutes later my name was called…
Of course this was only to go into the actual exam room. Once in the exam room I still to wait about another 10 minutes before the doctor came in – who spent all of 2 minutes examining me to then tell me that I have BRONCHITIS!!!
Please don’t get me wrong. I love my doctor’s office. Both the practitioners and the receptionists have always been good to my family. They have always worked with us to see my kids when they are sick and ensure my family’s health. I have a great relationship with our usual physician (I saw a different practitioner today) who will call in scripts for me or my kids based on my nursing assessment. Yet, in today’s healthcare scene where physician’s offices double and triple book appointments in order to make ends meet and try and make a profit, thanks in part to reimbursement guidelines, the ability for practitioners to remain on time with each of their appointments is near to impossible. Factor in the health care complexities of today’s patients, many of which are elderly and have multiple co-morbities, and now an office visit is sure to take longer than the time allotted because a thorough practitioner needs the necessary time to listen, diagnose, and treat that patient. Subsequently, other patient’s end up waiting. Somewhere in the midst of all of this though, there needs to be a happy medium because my time is valuable as well. If my appointment is for 10:45 am I would expect to at least get in to see the doctor by 11 am – not 11:20am. I shouldn’t have to block off an hour and a half of my time for a visit that should take no longer than 15 minutes. I am not sure what the answer is, but I sure would welcome a change….