Yesterday I had an appointment with a medical professional whom I see regularly. I always make my appointments with him and other doctors first thing in the morning so that I won’t have to wait in the event that prior appointments ran long. And I got there early, to make sure that I would not be causing a delay.
And yet, when my appointment time came, I wasn’t summoned back. Five minutes after the time of my appointment, I was still cooling my heels in the waiting room, paging through a magazine I really had no interest in reading because that’s what you do in medical waiting rooms. Finally, about 10 minutes after the designated time, I was called back, only to learn that the person I was going to see first was still getting set up — which delayed things further.
Yesterday wasn’t the first time this has happened, in that medical office or others. It drives me bonkers and really put me in a foul mood as my appointment began. In my experience casual, chronic tardiness seems to be endemic among health care professionals. You’d think that they would be concerned about internal health of their patients, and would recognize that making busy people wait is just going to add to their stress levels, as it did to me. You’d think that health care professionals would make sure that they do whatever possible to be on time, so as not to suggest that they think their patients’ time isn’t valuable. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.
As I sat there, stewing, I pondered the appropriate response. Tell the receptionist that I’m too busy to wait and just leave? Complain to the young woman who saw me first? Complain to the ultimate medical practitioner? There really aren’t any good options. Leaving in a huff seems like the act of an egomaniac, and bitching about lateness to health care professionals who are going to be working on you seems unwise. So, I sat there and took it, as I suspect most people do. And I realized that these people do a good job — when they finally get around to it — and I guess that if I want to continue to use their services I’m just going to have to take the bitter with the sweet.
Still, it irritates the hell out of me. Is it really too much to ask that the first appointment of the day occur on time, and the person seeing the patient be ready to go?