how do some of you handle being WAY behind schedule?

Specialties Ambulatory


Well, I love *almost* everything about my new job! But, not being on time is not much fun. Most days we are okay, only running 30-45 mins behind schedule (and that really isn't that bad for us!), but other times, people don't get seen until 1.5 hrs after their scheduled appt. The physician I room for has 2 exam rooms and I always have two pts back. We also have a 'shot room' that we use for injections and BP checks. It's small but I can put pts in it. I'd rather have the pt in a room than fuming in the lobby.

Anyway, on these 'behind' days, there is always at least one pt that comes out of the room and has a fit. I feel genuinely bad for them because I know their time is important, too. My question is for those of you who have the same situation at work. What do you tell these people? Do you just apologise and offer to reshedule? Or, do you try to assure them that it won't be much longer (even if you don't know for sure that it's true)? I don't fault the Dr. because he is extremely thorough with his patients and never rushes them out. He answers all questions. I admire him for that, and know that the waiting pt will also get similar tx when it's their turn. It is appropriate for me to ask the front office to allow 30 mins for 15 min appts? I know that the more pts we see, the more $$ the practice makes, so I'm sure they wouldn't want that. Also, by the end of the day, we do manage to cram all pts in. Ugh. Frustrating. I didn't mean to ramble on, but would like some 'tricks' from those who've experienced this! The other internist and PA in the office are always right on schedule because it bugs them not to be. My dr. has been in practice for 25 yrs and it doesn't bother him in the least to be late.



Specializes in Gen Surg, Peds, family med, geriatrics.

My doc does that too. Sometimes he takes up to an hour with a 15 minute appointment. I used to go crazy, but don't anymore. And like your doc, mine also likes to take his time with his patients. It can cause a real problem for those of us out in the "front lines" as I call it.

What we did was we had an office meeting and discussed all of that. We told him that although we understand that he likes to take his time with patients, he must be quicker if he wants to see them all. It's not fair to them to have to wait for a couple of hours...especially in our specialty...pediatrics.

The way I see it, the responsibility is not yours, but your doc's. He's the one who wants the patients booked Q15mins, so he must be the one to speed up a little. Otherwise book them Q30mins.

In our office, we use one of those batter operated doorbells. The secretary has the button and the ringer is hidden in the ceiling. Every time a patient comes in, she rings once. If he takes too long, she rings him every 10 minutes or so until he comes out. Doesn't always work, but it does make us feel like we're doing something.

As for the patients being angry, there's not much we can do about it except appologize. I have on occasion told the patient to talk directly to the doctor because he's the one taking the extra time...not us. They usually don't, but I do make a point of telling the doctor the patient's complain prior to the doctor walking into the room.

Hope this helps


One of the things we do is to warn patients if the doc is running behind (rather like when you wait to get seated at a restaurant). They feel more in control & can decide if they want to wait.

The other thing I do with irrate patients is explain that they can know the doc will take as much time with them if needed also.

Beyond that, I'd bring up the issue in a staff mtg/ discussion with the doc. Let him know the responses patients have to waiting so long & suggest 30min. times as a trial. Sometimes changes can get made if you're just "trying it out for a month".

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