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Being a Good Patient at the Doctor's Office

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I work in a doctor's office and I see some big time-wasters caused by patients that I would like to pass on to you.

  • Patients hate when they have to wait for the doctor, so please, please be on time to your appointment. Even 5 minutes late causes a big ripple on down the line.
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  • If you can't keep your appointment, call the office as soon as possible to cancel it.

  • Don't assume that just because the doctor is smiling and laughing, he doesn't have more patients. He or she usually does.

  • Have all your questions and information written down so you will be ready when the doctor comes in. Bringing someone with you can also help.

  • When you call the doctor's office, please remember that he or she is seeing people in the office. If the doctor doesn't call back within the hour, please don't call the office back. They will call you back.

  • Please don't use your cell phone when in the doctor office. It is very annoying to the other people in the waiting room. Go outside or even into the hallway if you have to be on the phone.

  • If the nurse asks you to get on the scale, assume it is because the doctor has told her to put you on the scale.

  • If your baby has a stinky diaper, ask for a plastic bag to dispose it in. Do not put the diaper in the trash can - either take it with you or ask the nurse to dispose of it outside.

  • Please don't bring children and then expect the office staff to babysit while you are with the doctor. We are working, not there to babysit.

  • Finally, please be friendly. I am a person and so is the doctor. I love my job and most of the patients. But there are some patients that are just plain rude.

By Sandy

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 30, 20050 found this helpful
Top Comment

1. Please ask the doctor and his staff not to over book his calendar. Not everyone requires 15 minutes or less.

2. Please ask all the staff at the clinic to address their patients in a professional manner as mr. Or mrs. Doe. Please do not use first names unless you are a personal friend who has known the patient since kindergarden.

3. Please read the patient notes in your office files before seeing the patient to refresh your memory and avoid unnecessary questions and this will cut out a lot of time during the office interview period.

4. Treat patients with dignity and respect and don't rush them because the calendar is over booked - the doctor patient relationship is interpersonal as well as professional. Trust is the most important factor in this relationship.

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August 3, 20120 found this helpful
Top Comment

I agree with this article. So, I do not mean to sound bad, but can we add a few things for staff, too?When a patient enters the office and approaches the window to sign in, or to ask a question, please do not ignore us. Do not continue to talk to your coworkers about what you did/had for dinner/went to/etc.

If you want a patient to be NPO, please tell us when we make the appointment. Please make sure there are such items as toilet paper, soap, and paper towels in the restroom. Especially if you want a urine sample.

Please don't call patients Honey/Baby/Toots, etc. If you cannot recall my name Ma'am would be more respectable.

Please do not chomp on gum while taking my blood pressure, etc.

So many patients have respiratory problems. Please do not spray so much strong cologne on.

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August 4, 20120 found this helpful
Top Comment

While lots can be done by both sides to make life easier for everyone, remember, it is a medical facility. There will be routine, unexpected medical emergencies and problems with equipment. Rushing through can cause mistakes to be made and ultimately a life. Not all emergencies actually look like emergencies, so individuals will go to the doctor's office rather than a hospital, and it is imperative that they be dealt with. And yes, emergencies happen in offices where you wouldn't expect them to, procedures can take more time than they normally would, complications turn up. It is impossible to account for everything.

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July 29, 20050 found this helpful

I can't imagine working in a doctors office. I think I would lose my mind! I had a friend that was a medical receptionist and the stories she would tell!

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 30, 20050 found this helpful

I agree with SNIGDIBBLY. Why can't office staff advise patients when they're running seriously behind and offer to let patients run an errand for 30-40 minutes? I had this happen recently and it seems so simple I don't know why more doctors don't try it.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 30, 20050 found this helpful

the above comments are taken very seriously at our office. i have heard very good reviews from patients both before i was a patient as well as now i am an employee.

we tell patients they can go to the store to pick up the milk or something.

i sense that snig and julie have not had good experiences.

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 1, 20050 found this helpful

Hi Sandy, I guess we have all been to the doctor and dentist and sat and sat and sat. I have REQUESTED that if I am to wait more than 15 minutes, I be called and notified. Many times I wonder IF the doctor and dentist are aware they are working for us. The consideration works both ways. A tip to the office workers. When weighing your patient is it really necessary to LOUDLY voice the number? Many times I have seen patients in tears over this thoughtless experience. Don't make patients neglect care because of this.

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 3, 20050 found this helpful

I work for a doctor, she is a real stickler about her schedule. She schedules patients appropriatley. And If she is running a few minutes late, I do let the patients know. However as we are very conscience about schedules, this very rarely happens. It's the patients that are usually late. Also.. when you come to the doctor make sure that you address the 1 reason why you are there. If you have multiple concerns, tell the schedular to schedule for more time. Don't be the pt that comes in and says "oh by the way, as long as i'm here...."

that helps too.

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August 4, 20120 found this helpful

I agree with one of the posts....this is a two way street. I don't have a problem with a long wait once in awhile but when it happens on a regular basis I'll find a new doctor. If I have to wait more than 45 minutes I figure there is a problem with the doctor or his office staff over scheduling.

I recently went with my son to a pain management doctor who had returned from vacation. The waiting area was packed with no room to sit and one patient said he'd been waiting nearly 3 hours. This is completely unacceptable. My son have never returned to this doctor. Doctors and their staff are no better than their patients and the same rules apply.

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July 29, 20140 found this helpful

I agree with several things posted. I have waited with my husband at the doctor's office more times than we ever got in on time. Our PCP will get us in early almost every time we see him and we really appreciate that. I do understand that doctors will have emergencies; they will get called out of the office and will sometimes be gone for hours. In that case, the office staff should let the patients know that there will be a wait and ask if anyone wants to reschedule.

When I've asked how long the wait will be only to find that the doctor isn't even in the building and hasn't been for the past hour, we just leave. If they can't be considerate enough to let us know they're running behind, then they don't need us as patients. We do give them several chances, but when it's a continuous problem we find a new provider.

One surgeon had been late to every single appointment we ever had with her, at least an hour every time. We finally told them we'd prefer to see the PA instead of the surgeon. We've had better treatment and we're seen on time now.

Also, the doctor should listen to what the patient says. I don't know how many times I've told the doctor or nurse something only to have them ask the same question I just answered a few minutes later. Yes, they're busy and have other patients, BUT they should be concentrating on the patient they have in the exam room at that time.

My husband is bed-bound now due to medicine he's had to take for his breathing. I told the doctor three times that my husband could not stand. He told him three times that he needed him to stand up. I finally lifted him up and held him before the doctor got the point. That's ridiculous.

Too many doctors overbook and the patients are usually the ones that end up losing - time, money, patience, and respect for the provider or his/her staff.

My husband and I invariably get to our appointments at least 15 minutes early. One time I was 3 minutes late to a dentist appointment. I do not live in town so it was not a quick trip. There was an accident on the highway that I could not get past, and had to wait for nearly 30 minutes.

When I arrived at the office, I was told that my appointment time had been given away. When I explained that I had been caught in traffic due to a wreck, I was told I should have left home earlier. I left home 30 minutes early. I sat in traffic all that time just to find that my appointment had been given to someone else who just walked into the office.

The receptionist told me that I was lucky they weren't charging me for the missed appointment. I told her that if they had charged me, I wouldn't pay it because it was ridiculous. I was three minutes late. I had never been seen on time at this dentist's office ever. Needless to say, I no longer see that dentist.

There are a lot of things that people on both sides of the desk could do to make any office visit more enjoyable.

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July 29, 20140 found this helpful

These are good points but I also would like to add a comment from the patients perspective. I don't like having to wait in the examining room sitting on the table for sometimes 15-30 min without being told anything. On occasion I have felt like I have been completely forgotten about. I would much rather wait in the in the main waiting area than the "little room" if the Dr. is running behind. My current Dr. spends time talking with me and I appreciate that. Some Dr's in the past have made me feel like I'm a robot being shoved through the door.

Also some waiting area's have uncomfortable chairs. If patients have to wait, it's nice to have a comfy place to sit. Also, a selection of magazine's is nice too.

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