I just walked out of my doctor’s office after waiting 55 minutes past my appointment time before being called into the exam room, and an additional 25 minutes sitting there waiting to see the doctor.

All exam rooms are kept filled with successive patients, yet my doctor went into an adjoining room three times after I was put in my room. This means that people who arrived later, or had later appointments, were being seen ahead of me. Perhaps the doctor got mixed up. Frankly, I don’t care. This isn’t the first time I’ve been “forgotten” about. One time I wasn’t too busy and waited 45 minutes in an exam room with the door open before anybody peaked in. That was after waiting 45 minutes more in their waiting room. I was prepared to wait until closing time just to make a point.

The doctors and staff never apologize for running late. If you make a comment then the trite excuse, “We had a couple of emergencies…” is trotted out. Every time. If emergencies are so frequent in your office that your appointments are constantly delayed, then you need to add more buffer time between appointments.

Doctors seem to place zero value on the time of their patients. When your office is perpetually running late, including the time you were 15 minutes late for the first damn appointment of the morning, then you need to have a system to warn your patients in advance that their appointment is going to be delayed.

They have my contact information. They could easily contact me by phone call, text, or email to say they’re running late and here’s the new appointment time. Post it on a website I can poll and update regularly as appropriate. Hell, some clever company probably sells a system like that to doctor’s offices but that implies that the office gives a damn to start with.

Fortunately for me, it was for a routine checkup and I had no specific complaint. But it doesn’t matter. I don’t expect to be seen on the minute of my appointment every time, but once in a blue moon would be nice. I would like to see doctors’ offices publish their lateness track record. Of course, none will. Why? Because there’s no competition.

In Ottawa Ontario, it’s almost impossible to find a doctor nearby who is taking new patients. They’re all filled to capacity, plus they operate a walk-in clinic, and thus they really don’t care how pissed off their patients get. Where ya gonna go, suckah?

This lack of capacity is by design. The easier it is to get medical care, the more likely patients are to use it. That costs the government more money. So there’s no reason for the governments to expand capacity at medical schools.

Doctors don’t want more doctors either. They want to keep their offices at capacity and beyond so that there’s no down time. They want to maximize their billings to the government. They don’t want to compete for patients because then they’d actually have to treat us as valuable people instead of an invoice to the government.

Six to eight hour emergency rooms waits are good for the government but sucks for the people in need of care. It’s also a horrible way to apply back pressure to people to force them to go to their family doctor. Emergency rooms could easily do triage within a few minutes and turn people away as necessary. But that implies they’re funded properly to meet that service level. No can do. That’s still too expensive. Best to leave people suffer and die in emergency waiting rooms and reduce the surplus population.

It really rankles me when people in America point to Canada as a health care system that works. In the U.S., you can get the best care in a timely manner if you can afford it. Otherwise, you go bankrupt and/or die. In Canada, you won’t go bankrupt* but you’ll wait many months to be seen by a specialist.

Well, at least I’ve lowered my blood pressure by venting here. My doctor’s office is lucky I chose this means to let off steam instead of making a scene in their office with their full waiting room of other people who have no choice but to just suck it up. Of course, if I did rightly and even politely complain in their office, I’d simply be banned and forced to go to walk-in clinics and wait even longer. Doctors’ offices know that.

* Bankruptcy in Canada due to medical costs is in the top 5 if you can believe this post.

Author: Tom

Destroyer of software. If I haven't tested it, it hasn't been tested.

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