I am beginning to suspect that the healthcare industry actually penalizes people for preventative healthcare, and that it reserves a special place in hell for people who have the gall to show up on time for medical appointments. This is especially irksome for me, since I am pathologically early to everything, and it is really frustrating to show up 10 minutes in advance for an appointment, as I always do, and then to cool my heels for 40 minutes waiting to see a provider for a really simple service, in this case getting a refill on a prescription.
I had an appointment at the clinic today for 12:40. Being a reasonably on time sort of person, I showed up at 12:33 to fill out paperwork and do anything else which might be required. I requested one form, was given another, filled it out, asked for the first form again, and was turned away to wait.
At 12:45, I got called into the back by a nurse who went through the vital signs rigmarole and made me pee in a cup. I don’t know why they always make me pee in a cup, no one ever explains it. After that little affair was done, I was escorted to a treatment room…
Where I waited, and waited, waited, until 1:07, I know because that’s the note I saw on my provider’s chart. I actually happen to like my doctor, she’s a hip lady, and it’s not her fault that the clinic handles appointments the way that they do. I understand that she was probably slated to see me at 1:00, giving me 20 minutes in which to be late, fill out paperwork, and have my vital signs taken. Her previous patient probably ran over, as patients often do when we are only given 20 minutes in which to address a myriad of health problems. And this was actually a pretty short wait, once I actually got into the treatment room…I’ve waited up to 40 minutes before. That’s why I bring a book.
So, my doctor and I chatted for three minutes, she wrote a prescription, and I left, only to be flagged down at the door to be told that I needed to fill out another form…the form I requested when I checked in. By the time I was done, it was 1:23, meaning that my ride had waited patiently for 50 minutes when I assured him it would be a “super quick appointment, it’s just a refill.”
Can’t there be some sort of reward for showing up early and being responsible? For ensuring that my prescriptions are filled before I run out, to make sure that I don’t experience a gap? Why must we all suffer because some people are late and flaky? Personally, I think that I should have had a 12:50 appointment, and been scheduled to see a doctor at one. I would have shown up at 12:40, which would have been perfect. If people can’t show up on time, that’s their problem, and we shouldn’t be scheduling 20 minute buffers into medical appointments to accommodate them.
Let’s say that I had made the appointment over my lunch break, as many people do, and I have in the past, when I had a real job. It is really stressful to show up early and then sit and wait for 40 minutes in growing dread and realization that you are going to be late back to work, and I don’t think that’s fair. And don’t give me that “well don’t schedule appointments during your lunch break” story. For some people, that’s not a possibility. Many of those same people are stretched pretty thin, and they are responsible about their time. If you tell them to show up at 12:40, they will show up at 12:30, or 12:35. It’s in our nature, and we can’t help it.
Instead, the system rewards those who show up late, because they are whisked into the back and they see a provider immediately, since otherwise the schedule would be disrupted. Bollocks to the latecomers, I say, let them languish in the waiting room and hope they can get in for another appointment later. After all, it’s only fair, I’ve been spending my entire life in a perpetual state of inconvenience because of them.