The frustrations of the waiting room, and why doctors are late. Dr. Rod Moser blogs at WebMD:
People are complex. When you schedule a woman for a routine pap smear, this is what you are planning to do. However, when you enter the room, you are faced with a crying, depressed individual in a paper gown. Clearly, a pap smear is not her main issue today. You patiently listen to her version of the divorce and custody issues, and what a bastard her husband is, or how she may lose her job. You wait and you listen. Tactfully, you try and look at your watch, but you always get caught. Sometimes, you will decide to triage - take care of the situational depression first, rescheduled the pap. Sometimes, and more likely, you do both. This is a 45 minute visit (at least).(Don't miss the comment thread.)
Out in your waiting room, people are stirring. They are making quick arrangements for people to pick up their kids at school, or cancelling other appointments. They are waiting and people HATE to wait (even though we call it a WAITING ROOM!). And, I understand that they are ticked. I hate to wait, too.
My next patient has been waiting a nearly an hour in the room. I don't want to go in there, but this is my job. My first goal is to defuse the angry. I apologize for the wait, acknowledge their anger for being inconvenienced. 'I am sorry that you had to wait today. I had an unanticipated medical crisis that took more of my time than anticipated. Sometimes, people's medical problems take more than just 15 minutes. I hope that you understand. Someday, YOU will need more time, and I hope the people that have to wait for YOU will be understanding as well. So, how can I help you today?' We both smile, tensions have released, and we complete the visit. As I exit the door, I hear, 'Oh, by the way...'"