The Weight of a Wait!!

Scene 1

Doctor ABC
A prominent busy specialist of the city.
OPD Timings : 5 pm to 8 pm

We reach the hospital at 4.10 pm, to get ourselves registered in the patient’s list.
Why, so early? Well, the unwritten rule is “first come first served”!
So, we wait and wait…5 pm turn to 5.30 pm and to even 6 pm and no sign of the doctor!! On questioning the attendant, it is known that 5 pm is the time for the patients but the doctor comes at 6 pm!!

Were we exasperated??

Fuming…we wait for some more time and finally the doc arrives at 6.20 pm!!
Though, we were the first patients in the list, we get to meet the doctor only at 6.35 pm!! Why?? Because, first the doc spends some time on the phone (a lot of smiles and some laughs were visible from the door, so certainly there was not an emergency patient at the other end!!) and then some more minutes with a colleague!!

Waiting for a total of 2 hours and 25 minutes!! (Or 1 hour and 35 minutes, if you think that we should had come by 5 pm!!)MPj04028480000[1]

Scene 2

Doctor XYZ
The leading specialist of the town.
OPD Timings : 4 pm to 8 pm

I reach the clinic at 3.15 pm…to follow the rule of “FCFS”!
The attendant, mentioned No. 1 on my prescription and added “NP” against it.

I had visited the doctor, a day ago and had to meet him with the laboratory reports so that he could initiate the treatment.

The Doc arrived at 3.55 pm.  “Punctual”!! I smiled with satisfaction.
And the very next moment, visibly in pain and discomfort a patient arrived and went into the doctor’s room.
When she came out, the attendant sent another patient who had come much after me.
I showed him my prescription which showed my turn to see the doc as No. 1.
Coolly, he showed me the letters NP.
NP?? I asked. And with a patronizing tone, he explains, NP means Non-Payment patient. Since, I had paid the consultation fee a day before and this fee is valid for 5 days, hence, I was not to pay the doc that day and thus I was a NP!!
Which means that NPs are also NON-IMPORTANT PATIENTS for that day and they would be sent in a queue after every 2 Payment patients irrespective of the time they come in.

With frustration written boldly over my face, I fume at their management system.

Is it done??
How does it feel to be treated this shabbily by the doctors??
How do the patients with physical illness cope up with this long wait in the clinic?
Does this anxiety and stress in the waiting room worsen/deteriorate the condition, considering the fact that most of us go to a doctor when our illness is acute?

A friend’s mother refuses to go to her psychiatrist, because the disturbed behavior/condition of other patients in the waiting area upsets her immensely, thereby making her more vulnerable emotionally.

Why do doctors practice such practices??

Is it because they have an uncaring attitude….as long as the patients keep coming, why change?  Or is it because they distrust patients to respect the time of the appointment?

Why can’t we have better appointment system,  which would be beneficial for both the doctors and the patients. Or why can’t there be more value for the patient’s time too?
And both these suggestions do not need some hi-tech gadgets/equipments or money to implement.

I believe, the doctor is offering a service for which we are paying, hence the indifference to towards the patients should not be endured.
And patients are paying to the doctors to take care of their problems, not the reverse.

I guess, the weight of the wait in a waiting room, weigh downs the patient!!
Anybody listening??

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36 thoughts on “The Weight of a Wait!!

  1. Shilpa,
    One sole reason I find your blog interesting is that you pay attention to the most ignored problems persistent in the society. I guess the above examples were experience by every ‘human’ who has visited the doctor.

    Doctor’s in India are the most diverse and disgusting creatures one can ever lay their eyes upon. They don’t follow the basic principles of hygiene, nor do they respect the patience of their patients.

    The ending was a rocker, seriously, this one is one of the best posts I have read in this month, and one of your personal bests I believe.


  2. the instances you have laid here are quite true and routinely followed in our society…

    @ also Pawan
    but I feel that its an exaggeration in saying “Doctor’s in India are the most diverse and disgusting creatures one can ever lay their eyes upon.”
    it does not mean that I have seen other countries but the situation is definitely as bad as is possibly discerned from his highly profuse statement. There are good people too. The hypocrites who commit such undesirable nuances….

  3. Hey Shilpa,

    It was a very interesting post. Just last week, I too went to see a prominent radiologist and waited from 11 am till 3 pm. The doctor, every time we asked, was on the way but stuck in a traffic jam. Thankfully, I had left my son at home. There were families that came with kids and they had the worst time coz the kids wouldn’t sit still and were becoming cranky and hungry. A couple came in with twins, babies literally, and we were all pitching in to help them coz the twins were shrieking and shrieking!

    However, I do not agree with the comment of a friend here about doctors in India because it is neither backed by supportive facts nor by logic.

    I come from a family of doctors. I grew up surrounded by doctors. As the daughter of a doctor, I’ve grown up seeing two types of doctors. The first type, like my father, evoke considerable love, warmth and compassion in the lives of people they touch, because they are doctor who value life and time in equal measures. The one thing my father hates is being late for work.

    As a pediatrician, he starts work at about ten in the morning and works till about three in the afternoon, taking tea and biscuits, and I get very angry because he is diabetic and he doesnt take food on time because he values the time of his patients more. I am not a doctor so I dont really care about their time. I care about his health and we quarrel about this and he always tells me, “How can I eat when the little children are running high fever and their parents have probably taken a day’s leave just to see me? Let me look at them first. Later, I can eat, peacefully.”

    The day before my wedding, those who visited my home were amazed that my father was attending to his patients. The day my son was born, my father took a half day and worked from evening onward.

    On Sundays, the only ‘free day’ he gets, my father travels with a team of doctors to very remote places by ferry (not even a boat!) and conducts medical camps for people who live on islands that are so disconnected from the city. He comes home so tired but very happy about these little things he is able to do.

    I am very proud of doctors like my dad. What I feel sad about is that now such doctors are so hard to find.

  4. @ All: Phew!
    Apologies for a statement made in haste, it’s a mistake I accept. But it’s also a fact that in most of the government hospitals, the doctor’s care less about their patients.

    Well, not that I entirely despise the doctor fraternity, a majority of the doctor’s to whom I have paid a visit in my home town are all clumsy and shabby.
    Partiality is the most common practise, and this practise has suddenly has started to become a habit. For instance one can find many articles in the Local daily ‘Eenadu’ about the bad practices committed by the doctor’s in one of the largest hospitals in the state, King George Hospital. I’ll try to leave a few links.

    @ Swapna: They say “Old is Gold”. That even applies to the yesteryear generation. Doctor’s, engineers, students of your fathers stature were common in the older generation, now they have become a rarity. Money mindedness is the key factor. The only saving grace from this situation is a few respectable doctor’s, who still serve the patients with honour.

    Sorry for the statement, I didn’t mean to be gross!

  5. Shilpa, beautiful post.. I have witnessed punctual and disciplined doctors most.. Or else, people here will create that as a big issue about the doctor which may spoil his/her reputation

  6. Well , I have had good experiences so far with docs atleast when it comes to appointment..

    And more surprising experience I had was in Regional Cancer Center, Trivandrum where I had taken my dad for treatment. Even though it was a government setup they have a clean system with people of all walk of life treated one and same, punctual and systematic ! Rich or poor , you have got only one system there. no bypassing the system. no favouritsm. It came as a big surprise for me… esply from a govt setup.

  7. This is one problem almost all of us have faced, be it govt hospital or private practioners and the only reason for this is the private doctors are free birds, no regulation for them, no one to keep an eye.And it is human nature that we tend to divert from the righteous path if there is no one (who matters)watching us

  8. It takes all to make this world.. just that the bad ones are over weighing the good ones… or do we just forget about the good one coz we take them for granted?
    Just as there are good docs and bad docs there also are good patients and bad patients.. :-p i remember one incident when a patient made other patients life hell because he felt he was unattended..
    The bottomline is that India on whole requires better medical facilities. May be the number of doctors per 100 patients is poor. And that could be making doctors less sensitive .

  9. nice post case is ditto like Shruti…I have always seen nice doctors around me…am friends with most of them 😀

    but still you have voiced out very crucial points here…ppl lose their lives cos of the negligence of few doctors…they have to be disciplined…

  10. The medical system in India is faulty(like most of other facilities)
    However,I don’t think most of the Drs are as careless as the one you have been to.It really is a matter of commitment and attitude.It depends upon the individual as to where does he want himself placed in a society.
    Dr coming late ,perhaps,can be explained to the extent that it is the previous patient took time.
    But,in any case,the medical fraternity must put things in order before some silly minister gets in spoils it further.
    AIIMS in Delhi is a live example.It can take you over 30 hrs of wait before you get to see the Dr.

  11. Annoying experience !!!!! I would have hit the ceiling had I been in your place. I have done it when I’m at the receiving end at times.

    Have seen all kinds of doctors. The really thoroughly dedicated ones as well as the indifferent lackadaisical ones too.. If only the latter were fewer , we wouldn’t be ranting ever.

    I hope you gave your “feedback” (piece of your mind) when your turn finally came!

  12. I am going to a doc today, I guess I will need to prepare myself for it.Jokes apart, the issue u have raised is very valid. I remember a doc who was so strict about the appointment, he made a patient with acute breathing problems wait for his turn, The poor patient went to another clinic.
    See this balance is really a very thin line…I aint defending docs, but can there be any fool proof system ever!!.

    And yes I do agree there are docs who just dont value the time of the patients. I remember one doc talking on the phone while he was treating me!!!. SO the attitude will have to change

  13. One of the major aspects of doctor-patient relationship according to me (there are many others too!) is the loss of relationship. The ‘Family Doctor’ concept is lost due to urbanization, migration, movement. But I guess there are good doctors too. For example, my doctor insists that I call him once in a month just to inform him about how I am doing and not just visit him when I am not well. It is my fault that I do not call him regularly. But I appreciate his point. May be we have many good doctors and many not so good patients like me 🙁

  14. @ pawan : Thanks Pawan. Am glad you find it interesting…my blog I mean! 🙂

    Well, I would not say all, but yes there are some black sheep in this medical fraternity too!!

    @ RSV : I know, they are very commonly seen. 🙂

    @ Swapna Raghu Sanand : Thanks Swapna. Oh yes, I can empathize. In the first case, I had taken my son along and he gave me a tough time too. Waiting for such a long time can test anybody’s patience!

    Oh, that’s so heartening to know about your father!! I believe, we need loads of docs with his kind of passion and dedication in our society. 🙂

  15. @ Sid ‘Ravan’ Kabe : Thanks Sid.

    There are consumer courts where you can file cases of medical negligence. Not sure if one could boycott a doc for such an issue!! :O

    Yeah, NP was a new concept, I encountered!!

    @ Bharathi: Thank you Bharathi for your support! 🙂

    Oh yes, this casual attitude needs to be checked and surely we can do with a lot of professionalism in this field!

    @ M Verma : Yeah, Mr. Verma, it’s an omnipresent problem.

    I guess, to start with, raising a collective voice against it. And this issue needs just better management systems in the clinic/hospital.

  16. I have mixed experiences … I mean in some cases doctors were late and not so well managed but in most cases they were punctual and organized … also I found that large reputed hospital OPD are more disciplined comparatively …but NP thing surprised me coz I have never seen such a thing ….

  17. Agree that it is very frustrating for patients to wait for doctors for hours on end…

    I have found that this is mostly the case with doctors practicing in big hospitals such as Manipal, Apollo etc.

    I find going to smaller doctors to be a more rewarding experience. You don’t have to wait too long, and they also listen patiently and diagnose properly. Going to big hospitals is a waste of time and money according to me.

    Btw, in India doctors are much better and humane than in the so-called westernized countries. You fall sick in a place like US, you really suffer…

  18. @ Shruti : Thank you Shruti.

    And lucky you!! 🙂

    @ Lakshmi Rajan : That’s nice, that you have had good experiences!

    And that’s commendable service for a govt. hospital! Kudos to the management!! 🙂

    @ Rohit Dassani : Oh yes, it is a very noble profession. I mean healing somebody from their pain and misery is truly noble and virtuous. But guess, there are gaps at times.

    Yes, both the doctors and patients have changed…

    Appointment system in a clinic or hospital is not a new thing. Its only that select few practice it!!

  19. @ Mustaf: True! It’s a common experience.

    But I believe, the private doctors are not free birds. Medical Council of India, makes the regulations relating to the Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics for registered medical practitioners. So, they have duties and responsibilities to fulfill!!

    You may like to check out:

    @ Whats In A Name : I agree, there are all kinds everywhere and doctors are no exception.

    Oh, regarding patients…well one can have tons of stories about them too. Last year, a lady at an opthal’s clinic, asked the reason why Aaryan, my son wears spectacles. After listening to my answer, she said, “It’s good to know that your son has this problem too and our child is not the only one suffering from it!!!” Can you beat that????? :O

  20. @ Neha : Wow! That’s cool!! I must say, you are blessed!! 🙂

    @ BK Chowla: Well said, Mr. Chowla!

    30 Hours!! OMG, that’s toooo tooooo much!! 🙁

    @ lostworld : I know, you fume, you grit your teeth, your blood boils, and BP shoots up….in such situations. I guess, you experience all that outside in the waiting room, but when you enter and get your problem sorted out, you feel relieved and forget all the trauma you had gone through.

    In our case, my Mom had fallen down and her leg from knee to foot was so very swollen and blue black that it was a grotesque sight!! We were expecting the worse, but the doc thought otherwise. We were so very relieved that the trauma of 2.5 hours just vanished!
    But honestly, it is not done!!

  21. @ Shahid Mukadam : Hope you had a good experience with your doc!!

    Agree totally…the attitude has to change…

    @ aativas : That’s such a nice thing to know about your doctor!! I know, we majorly visit the doctor when our problem is acute, but rarely for regular check-ups!

    @ Dhiman : True…Life is all about good and bad experiences!!

    Yeah, NP was new to me too!!

    @ Roshmi Sinha: Thanks! 🙂

    @ nishitak : I agree… I now go to the clinic with my mobile fully charged, so that I can exchange SMS with family and friends, listen to some music or play mobile games and last time I carried my novel too!! 🙂

    @ Chetan : You bet!

  22. I have a different problem of sort here. Our doctors takes too much time for a patient hence the weight of wait. But a nice reason to wait though. Waiting is the last thing want it is so boring that volutarily turn up late, may be thats what the docs are doing 🙂

    There was a topic in blog-a-ton ” Teachers now and then”. “Doctors now and then” is one topic I dont want to see. We would be doomed if doctors become that way. Already i am seeing ads on TV, better beware

  23. We do have this attitude everywhere, anybody who can get away with laying unfair terms does that.

    Like school teachers keep the parents waiting.

    I think we should try and find doctors who respect our time and our health, and talk about those who don’t, word of mouth is a powerful tool, we do know some very dependable ones, if we are kept waiting there’s a genuine reason, also we must inform if we are late there.

    But it’s difficult to find a good doctor first, so then findning one who is good and respects time both isn’t going to be easy… 🙁

  24. Shilpa,

    I would like to add the case of the medical representatives. In most doctors offices, they are called in first, no matter how long the patients are waiting.

    There never seems to be a hurry of any kind while dealing with them.

    These guys are the ‘face’ of the pharmaceutical companies who want to sel at any cost. True, they are an essential part of marketing but a lot of unethical practices do go on also at the same time.

  25. NP thing is sad but doctors sometimes lead a very hectic life.. E.g: if a doctor comes late to the clinic, it might be very well possible that the entire day he was in some major operation and hence got late in catching up with everything else in life. Even they are humans and they sometimes cannot handle so much of pressure in life. But some people waste patient’s time too and I have seen such people everyone (not just in India)

  26. That’s the reason I avoid going to any docs as far as possible! I always fear I’ll come back home catching some other horrendous disease from the rest of the patients sitting there!

    And the wait is going to increase in time… 2 reasons:
    1. Growing Population
    2. Growing lack of health

  27. Hmm so this is a problem all over India!!!

    Down here in Kerala doctors in government hospitals are on strike. The Governemnt has increased their salary to astronomically huge sum. Still they need private practice to boost their purse.

    And when private practice is legalised they will ask the poor patients at hospitals to come to their home for treatment…

    Yeah… They have every right to earn money and I am not asking them to do any charity. Wonder if they ever thought that they are endangering the lives of poor people who can not afford a private hospital when thse doctors go on strike

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