Hey Doc, Stop Making Us Wait!

I am sick and tired of waiting for doctors.  I find myself wasting so much time going to a doctor and sitting in his/her office for more than an hour before being seen.  It’s obscene!

But I wait.  I’m not sure why I wait.  There are other doctors and specialists out there. I recently asked my community what they thought and here’s what they said:

How long is acceptable to wait at a Doctor’s office?

  • Deborah Kirschenbaum Herman ?20 minute rule….for EVERYONE. After 20 minutes, nice note saying I will call you to reschedule. Only exception, OB-Gyn!
  • Sharyl Rice I have had this discussion many times—if the Dr. is helping a patient who needs extra time, then when it is your turn, don’t you want the same attention….
  • Helen Zagaro I have walked out many times from a Dr’s office, knowing my anxiety of waiting, they always schedule me , so the Dr can see me right away, in an emergency , you just have to wait.
  • Marina McCreery ?15 minutes. having worked in medicine for many yrs. (depending on the practice) some offices/Dr.s want appts. booked every 15 mins. operating on the idea that there’ll often be “no shows” or last min. cancelations….and the Dr. doesn’t want his time idle even for 5 mins. If an MD office constantly “runs late” chances are that they overbook….not considerate of well being of all patients..
  • Sharyl Rice Sometimes a routine visit turns into something much more….I have gotten much more patient and tolerant the past year and half of being on the medical merry go round..
  • Donna Drake ?20 to 32 minutes if he is away on call with an emergency. At 45 minutes late with no logical answer being offered I would ask for a $20 cancellation fee to be paid to ME. 🙂
  • Deborah Kirschenbaum Herman ?OB’s are delivering babies and therefore at the will of the uterus! When I aged out I switched to a non obstetric practice!
  • Lisa Ritchie ?15 minutes. If it’s longer the nurse/receptionist/assistant should tell you. Emergencies can’t be scheduled, but as a patient I expect to be told so I can reschedule. MY time is money too. Should I send a bill to the Dr. for the waiting period?
  • Hilary Topper Do you think that if we all picked ourselves up and left after say 15 minutes, that things would change in medical practices?
  • Amy Fishman Schwartzberg if the receptionist isn’t smart enough to let you know how long the wait will be then 15-20 is the max. I once waited 40 minutes in the waiting room, and another 20 in the patient room and I was fasting for bloodwork. I still had to have the exam and the bloodwork — almost fainted
  • Hilary Topper That’s crazy Amy… I just wonder if things can change?
  • Amy Fishman Schwartzberg I did say something to the doctor and she was surprised that they didn’t take me for my blood work so I could eat because they knew one of the doctors didn’t come in due to another emergency. I have since switched practices and haven’t waited more than 10 minutes total.
  • Madeline Milstein Silverman Orthopedists seem to always be extended wait time. I try to make early morning appt whenever possible for all doctors.
  • Vicki Heller Recently I told my dermatologist about how I had waited for one and a half hours without “comment” or apology from his staff. He said he would correct that. A few weeks later, when I returned-Same exact situation!-Seeing that the doctor would not be ready to see me until after a two hour wait, I left. The staff said “we will let them know.”-No one called. No one apologized! I think my time is worth something. Maybe a should “Charge the Doctor?!”
  • Michelle Hyett Tauster I firmly believe that the doctors on Long Island are especially guilty of long waits. I used to use a local dermatologist in Long Beach and it was always a long wait. One time I flew Deena in for an appt and they kept us waiting and then said they didn’t have what they needed in that office. So…now I use doctors in the City and enjoy the day while I am at it
  • Ann D Middleman I have fired doctors for keeping me waiting. There is NO excuse! I repeat–NO EXCUSE!

So there you have it, if we pull together and only wait 15 minutes to see a doctor, then maybe they will change their policy and we won’t have to wait.

What do you think?


  1. Dr. Bruce Pinker

    I would love to weigh in on this question.  As a foot and ankle surgeon/podiatrist, serving the communities of Westchester, Rockland, and NYC for many years (progressivefootcareny.com), I have focused upon running my office efficiently. Typically, as an example this morning, no patient waited more than 10 minutes in the my waiting room.  Once the patient was seated in the treatment room, she did not wait more than a few minutes until being evaluated and treated  by me. Several patients did not wait at all once they entered my office as they were escorted to the treatment room right away.

    When I was a student in podiatric medical school, I needed shoulder surgery.  I went to see a world class surgeon in NYC and waited over three hours in the waiting room.  This was extreme, however, I really needed my shoulder to be repaired.  Three hours is quite excessive for waiting.  The mentality from the doctor’s perspective is that he/she is moving as rapidly as possible, giving each patient all the time that he/she needs.  And some believe that you need them more than they need you.  That is unfortunate.  But that relates to their bedside manner.  Either they have a good one or a bad one. 

    As a suggestion, I recommend that petients in the future call their doctor’s office in advance if the doctor is notorious for running behind schedule.  I have done this with my orthopedic surgeon in NYC, and it saved me tons of time!

    Reality iin some doctors’ offices is that patients mention things to the doctor that must be addressed at that particular visit.  For example, if you go to your dermatologist for a wart on your left hand, and she treats it, you may also mention that you are concerned about a skin growth on your head.  It may be cancerous and requires a biopsy.  That should be done right then and there.  Also, you may have discolored toenails or fingernails that have fungus, and they require a biopsy right then and there, as well.  The better dermatologists will take the biopsies right on the spot, rather than have you return to have them done.  In that sense, you may have waited a couple of hours, but they are saving you from a return visit.

    Unfortunately, efficiency has not been a common theme in most doctos’ offices.  It is not usually taught in residency.  However, in today’s society, consideration must be made for the patient.  Because after all, a doctor’s practice is a business, just like any other business, and the patients (i.e.: customers) need to be satisfied, or else they probably will not return.

    Dr. Bruce Pinker, DPM, AACFAS, AAPWCA

    1. Andrea

      Quote – “As a suggestion, I recommend that petients in the future call their
      doctor’s office in advance if the doctor is notorious for running behind
      schedule.  I have done this with my orthopedic surgeon in NYC, and it
      saved me tons of time!”

       so how did knowing that doctor runs late save you time? were you able to show up late for the appointment?

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