How do you all handle late patients? I work in a peds clinic where there are a fair amount of chronically late patients, not 5 minutes late, but more like 15-20 minutes late. They never apologize, or acknowledge that they are late at all. The MDs don't really care - they think of it as income no matter what time the patient arrives, so we have no official late policy. Additionally, it is difficult to make them reschedule because sometimes the patients are there for a sick visit and have to be seen, or they are well-baby checks and we typically schedule 4-6 weeks out, especially in the summer. Lateness is my #1 pet peeve, and I hate the fact that people are entitled enough to think that their time is more precious than anybody else's. If one person is 15 minutes late for their sick visit and we have to see them, the next scheduled patient who shows up on time will not be seen until 15 minutes later. I wish there was a good way to indicate to these parents that they are late, and it is just plain rude and will now make everyone else behind.
Does anyone have a good zinger to lay on these patients?
Offices are frequently overbooked, and sometimes patients have extended waits time and time again. Patients can feel that their time is important, too and they can become frustrated. I don't know if that's the case with your clinic. I do think that if the clinic goes with a policy to reschedule when the patient is 15 minutes late and to charge a $25 fee, then the clinic needs to extend some sort of courtesy or concession to the patients. If for whatever reason, the doctor is running 20 minutes or more behind, then the receptionist should notify the patients in the waiting room of the lengthy delay and afford them the option to reschedule.
Years ago, when my former spouse was undergoing chemo at his doctor's office, he had to be fasting before the blood work which was done prior to the office visit. We had a long commute to town for the blood work and visit, and some other logistical considerations that did not allow us to get a bite to eat between the blood work and the office visit. A terrible routine developed where the doctor was running behind an hour and half or more at each visit. I was concerned not only for my spouse, but also for some other patients who appeared more frail and weak. I wrote a letter to the doctor outlining my concerns about the discomfort caused by the overbooking delays.
The doctor called me and told me that from now on they would honor our appointment time and would not overbook. The doctor also opted to notify patients upon arrival that there would be a lengthy delay due to some emergent situation. Patients were afforded the opportunity to leave and get a bite to eat and return in an hour or so, or to reschedule.
Hurling a zinger or scathing comment will not engender good will or a pleasant interaction. It could bring down some mojo you'd rather not experience.
Last edit by Ruthfarmer on Jun 6, '12