W is for… 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!!images (2)

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 have been there by 5 pm!!)

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. I empathized with the patient and thought that she is right to go in first as her condition was grave.

When she came out, the attendant sent another patient who had come much after me.
I showed him my prescription which clearly stated my turn to see the doc as No. 1.
Coolly, he showed me the letters NP.
NP?? I asked. And in a patronizing tone, he explained, NP means Non-Payment patient. Since, I had paid the consultation fee a day before and this fee was 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/equipment 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, and not to aggravate the same.
I guess, the weight of the wait in a waiting room, weighs downs the patient, which is truly weary !!

Have you experienced the pain of the wait in a doctor’s clinic?

Image courtesy: Google Images

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68 thoughts on “W is for… Weight of a Wait

    • As it is I have this habit of asking too many questions about the disease, treatment, diagnostic tests… you see I have been a pharmaceutical professional. And when your turn comes, all you want is to take the prescription and get out of there… but that’s a good suggestion… will try it out next time! 😀

  1. I once had to wait with my brother for almost three hours to meet a dentist at the hospital he was scheduled to have a bypass at. Imagine someone in his condition being kept waiting. Of course, he was literally the patient one. I was fuming and wonder why doctors can’t be held to the same standards as all service providers!

  2. In a world where doctors are deified and worshipped for their skill, its sad to see such incidents. It is by far the noblest profession after teaching in my opinion.

    • Without any doubt this is most noble profession. They are doing a great service to the mankind… but they cant treat the people who literally worship them so shabbily!!

  3. Absolutely, I have.

    My daughters pead clinic has these kinda rules, both the above. So we take an appointment and find out what is our number for the visit and if there is considerable time, we go back home and return after about 30-40 minutes whatever suits. Also, I keep troubling the attendant at the reception with my annoying calls , ‘mera number aaya?’ LOL Guess, we all keep waiting for our number only and the doc hardly take a few minutes for the diagnosis and charges a whale!! Doctors , I say, the noblest of professions (LOL, again!)

    • I can understand… for docs who are nearby we can go home and come back when ‘mera number aaya’ but those who are far off… that’s not possible. And at some places, if you are not around and your number comes, they coolly assign you a new number or send you much later! 😐
      Yes, the worst is that for hours and hours of waiting the doc only takes a few minutes to do the needful.

  4. Very true Shilpa. Even though it is a noble profession, many private doctors are out to make money. They are hardly concerned about the patients. This is a general impression of the people about private practitioners.

  5. this is a close to my heart topic shilpa – seriously why can’t the doc value a patient’s time? Have spent many a nerve wrecking hours waiting for His Majesty to grace us with his presence. Yes there are emergencies, surgeries and he may be called to another hospital for some urgent consultation – we understand that, But that happening on a daily basis we don’t understand ! good one

  6. cant say how much I can relate to this post
    Just yesterday I wrote a hugggggggggge feed back in a diagnostic centre which is highly disorganised, worst reception , admin , management and docs where half of them r on leave or come just for 1-2 hrs.
    RECEPTION always gives wrong info
    we shuttled for 2 days to get the tests done.
    Finally yest night we went but had to wait for 1 and 1/2 hr for adamn 5 min test
    wrote a feed back and abt to write on their site

    • I can understand your state of mind! It is like this at most of the places! Some time back we went for a diagnostic test at a reputed centre… the guy at the reception gave a time to collect the report, the person who conducted the test gave a different time and an onlooker said, dont go by their times, they delay it, so we went to the reception again and told them about the disparity in timings given to collect the report, so 2-3 hospital officials came and each one blamed the other and were arguing in front of us… Gawd!! Such mismanagement… incidentally, they are very organised when it comes to charging money from the patients! For that they have absolute clarity and follow the rules to the hilt!

  7. I have had both good and bad experiences. I have had fights with docs so many times for this. I refuse to visit my neighborhood doc because he has a clinic on the ground floor of his house but still doesn’t come to the clinic on time – His clinic by the way is a 2 minutes down the stairs from his bedroom !
    But on the other hand, I know another doctor who is extremely punctual and snaps at patients when they are late. And once when I was on severe pain, I called him for an appointment but was told by his sec.that he is on a family holiday. My message was passed on to him and he called me back immediately to talk to me and give me an appropriate medicine .. Now this is what i call a real doctor !

    • True, while the good experiences are far and few between, the bad ones occur with great regularity!
      That is such a fabulous experience… but sadly such docs are a rare breed!

  8. I have, many times…..few years back I was undergoing the treatment for thyroid. I wud take appointment reach early like you and the doc wud not make an appearance on time. Even after coming he wud spend too much time on a patient and then wud suddenly run away leaving the patients in lurch. I used to fume over the time wasted there.

    When I was preg avg time spent at my gynaec wud be anywhere between 1-2 hrs….

    But this NP things is horrible….the general practice here is that one patient goes in then one report wala patient will go in then again a fresh case and it goes on….

    • Your thyroid doc reminds me of a specialist here… He has a ROARING practice. Must be seeing around 200-250 patients a day and majority of them come from villages. The clinic has 3 docs (father, son and DIL). The regular fee is 200 and for this fee, you have to take a token in the morning and your turn may come late at night too. For patients who cant afford to wait whole day long, there is something called as “Priority Patients”, … pay Rs 500 and the docs may see you anywhere between 30 min to 1 hour. There is yet another category “Urgent”… you pay Rs 1000 for consultation and you are seen by the docs Immediately.
      Now all this is fine (no, not fine, actually), but one of the doc… the son is so slow that you feel like shaking him up… takes so much time to write a prescription, sometimes he is not happy with the pen, sometimes he is looking for a paper weight, then he cant find the bill book, he has to call a million people in between and these could be the plumber or cable fellow or a chemist or a diagnostic centre… then he has to check every message or ‘ting’ that comes on his big hi-tech mobile… GAWD! He gets on my nerves and sadly he is my doc and I visit him as a Priority Patient! 😐

    • Shucks!! Which means it is not your bimaari which gets the priority it how much u can shell out that is more important!!! I get goosebumps when I think of this!!!!

  9. You have touched a raw nerve Shilpa. Since my dad was a doctor we seldom had to wait for doctors. Now when I have to wait for long hours and still not get sound advise it irks me no end.

  10. I think we’ve all experienced this at some point. But I don’t think it’s the doctors, it’s more the admin staff at the clinics.

  11. I agree with everything you have shared shilpa, I have this experience of waiting for the doctor so many times in my life, in different situations. Some times I get so angry,and I think, we must have system for charging the doctors for the patients time …

  12. I have had such experiences with one eye-doctor. We need to consider at least half a day every time we visit them. Local doctors don’t have timing. We call the office to check if they have already come and then go. Once there, it’s first in first out rule. The NP rule surprises me too!!

    Destination Infinity

    • I can relate to that, Rajesh. Last year, when my father suffered from severe stomach pain and the regular doctors were not able to diagnose the cause of the pain, we were asked to see the doc (HOD) at the Medical College. For a week, daily, we left home at 8 am and returned back at 6 pm. First meeting the doctor after waiting for 2-3 hours, then going to the diagnostic centre, (all the tests were done again) waiting there for another 3-4 hours and then back to the doc… it was a nightmare!
      NP was a big shocker! 😐

      • Thanks a lot for giving everyone an extremely breathtaking chance to check tips from this web site. It’s always so amazing and stuffed with amusement for me personally and my office peers to search your blog at the very least three times in a week to learn the newest tips you have. Of course, I’m so always pleased considering the astounding creative concepts you serve. Selected two areas in this article are in truth the best we’ve ever had.

  13. Shilpa , you are so right and no I don’t subscribe to the view that the doctors are doing any service to the mankind . They are charging us fees right ?for all the appointments and the hours they keep us waiting . And do you know these very “noble” doctors charge us extra fees if they attend to us in emergency . So they are as good as lawyers and charted accountants …if not worse 🙂

    Your post brought forward many memories 🙂

  14. Oh does that happen at your place too. I know it happens here in hyd and at Bangalore. I think practically everywhere it happens everywhere. Waiting for the docs is killing not only our patience but also aggravated our fears like you said it happens with your friends mom at psychiatrist place.

    Worst of worst it happened for us at one of the premier hospitals of our country – Apollo.

  15. When I had to take my son to the clinic for his monthly check ups, we had to wait pretty long at the clinic. The appointment systems was not followed properly. They sent in people as and when they liked. Fortunately it has changed and they follow better rules now.

  16. In Canada, because it’s all No Pay, we can sometimes wait for hours. However, they do give priority to those in pain and usually, if your just visiting your GP, they are pretty good at keeping their appointments. I’ve never waited more than an hour.

    In Mexico, I only go to Pay Clinics and Hospitals (mainly for sanitary reasons) and we are seen to immediately.

  17. Just give some positive views also.

    I have had lots of experience recently in a Delhi super specialty hospital (and also second-hand recent experience of AIIMS). Super impressed with all the staff and the doctors. AIIMS you need a bit of know-how to get things done. But when you think in the day-care & oncology OP they are seeing about 3000 patients a day!

    In the pvt one, the figure is about 300. The doctors and the staff were a blessing, so that even when sometimes we had to wait around, we didn’t really mind. Drs get called away regularly for emergencies with patients, you could see that. But when they saw us, it seemed they had all the time in the world to listen to our symptoms and questions. It might have been 5 mins., but it felt like the doctor was really concentrating on you and did not let you go until you were satisfied.
    In fact, the doctor made time during a personal family weekend trip to their city to visit my elderly parents and explain about the treatment. We didn’t know him from Adam before this!

    There is a shortage of oncologists (not a sought after specialty apparently among the young) and these 2 doctors are having to travel once a week to the new hospital in Punjab to oversee treatments there.

    We would arrive at 7:30 and leave by 7-8 in the evening, and the doctor still had a load of patients to see, while the staff had gone a shift change. So no complaints.

  18. Even specialists don’t have the appointment system, we have to wait for hours, I can’t understand, why they can’t see people only by appointment, and be on time, too. I can understand when they have emergency, but coming late to the clinic, is really horrible, they must value the time of their patients, but some doctors take patients for granted.
    Actually many doctors are good people, yet they fall into this category where they don’t see people by appointment, although they can have a system that will benefit both them and their patients.
    Luckily, I hardly have the need to go to the doctor, and I consider it to be a blessing.

    • I know, I am still patient, but when I have to go with KG… it is double stress for me… otherwise he is ok, but at a doc’s clinic somehow he has zero patience. 😐

  19. Shilpa,my case is so fresh..I have been having serious problem with my shoulder ( reason for being away from blogosphere for sometime).
    My appointment was for 10.45 and as always,I reached hospital before time .
    For ,Whatever reason,I had to wait for over 45 mnts before I was called in.I did let him examine me,but,I gave him a piece of my mind and told him thst I will never come back to him ever.I was on his treatment for over 10 days.
    Next day I went to a different Dr hoping he will behave.
    NP…exists everywhere ,it’s getting too commercial

  20. What a fantastic post. I am going to cross post it when I write on this topic Shilpa. I had a miserable experience with my doc at Chennai during my second pregnancy. I realized later she was overworked. On the contrary, during my first pregnancy, my doc (in Mumbai) would get her secy to call up and apologize if she was as much as 15 mins late! May her tribe prosper 🙂


  21. Oh yeah! I had to go every week to this lung specialist clinic back in Kanpur, and the average wait time there was at least 1.30 hours. Sometimes it could be as long as 3 hours! That was when we were priority patients who paid more and had a proper registration number etc. The clinic also served general patients who came from far off, even remote villages out of Kanpur! And most of the time, the actual consultation time lasted for like less than 3 minutes! It was a nightmare! I wouldn’t even sit on the benches provided, because all the other patients waiting would be coughing and sneezing, and I have this phobia of waiting rooms in medical institutions, that I’ll catch an infection from someone else, since my immune system is already weak with the chronic respiratory disease!

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