Letter: It’s Just Not Right

If you run a doctor’s office or any other offices that require appointments, this letter is for you.

I think it’s very wrong to stuff appointments into your calendar if you know your office consistently cannot handle them.

Case in point, I’ve been at this doctor’s office more than one time, and every time I’m sitting in the waiting room I hear people talking how they (and I experienced this as well too) are waiting for well over an hour to be called in to the see the doctor. (Not a specialist, just a regular doctor.)

This wasn’t a one-time occurrence. This is every time I visit this practice.

It’s very clear that your office cannot handle this amount of patients in your time slots, so then why give appointments for people just to sit there for an hour? It’s stealing people’s time and is really not Yashrus. I’m sure people would rather come back a different day knowing they are seen within 15 minutes or so of the appointment, instead of wasting so much time waiting.

Either bring on more doctors or space out the appointments further apart. But to make people waste an hour every time is just not right.

A very frustrated busy mom.

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42 COMMENTS

  1. I totally agree ! My father was a doctor and his office manager always called his patients if he was running 30 minutes late so that they could reschedule or not waste their time waiting in the office. I know it’s not easy – he had surgeries that ran later than expected and patients who were delayed in traffic but really needed to be seen… but the office manager could do more for many practices.

  2. It is very frustrating. However, it isn’t just limited to doctor’s offices. We have to wait for contractors, plumbers, electricians, appliance repair, lawyers, at the grocery, Walmart. Everyone begs to be squeezed in, there aren’t enough pros. There’s traffic and the person scheduled for 9am showed up late, pushing everyone down for their appointments.
    It is frustrating. Lakewood is a very busy place. Out of town, it’s less hectic. In town, with tons of people, we unfortunately have to wait…

  3. The reason doctors do this is because insurance pays them pennies per visit so they try to stuff as many patients in at a time

  4. You are 100% correct! I once asked the doctor, after being seen an hour after my appointment time, what would happen if I would come to my appointment 45 minutes late. I was told that I would be asked to reschedule. My eye doctor starts his appointments at 7:30, but does not show up in the office until 8. In addition, he schedules more than one appointment for that time slot. He is already behind before he even starts! It shows an utter lack of respect for the patient.

  5. I agree 100%. Not only that , if I come 10 minutes late my appointment is canceled. But I can sit and wait over an hour. Completely unfair. It’s been like this forever. Doctors always way overbook appointments hoping people will cancel.

  6. 100% correct. We had to wait for 1.5 hours once and we let them know we will be switching if this happens again. Needless to say, it occurred again. We switched out of that practice to further out but are seen now within 15 min every time.

    This is unacceptable behavior that has to be called out. Practices will continue this bad behavior until people complain and hurt their bottom line by switching out to practices that take their patients times and schedules seriously.

  7. sometimes there is emergencies ….some things have to be checked right away thanks hashem you dont have that
    im not sure they are doing intentionally

  8. The doctors want to know they will have steady work, through out the day. This is the best way that works for them. With out any down time. I have experience some specialties where u need to Two or Three hours. Crazy.

  9. Sometimes crucial appointments are rescheduled to a later date, instead of being rescheduled promptly so that lives can be saved. Sometimes doctors tell their nurses to return phone calls when patients are in dire need to hear from the doctors directly. It’s terrible, and there are no words to explain or to rationalize this kind of behavior. It is what is – unfortunately, and much to detriment of the patients.
    Ultimately, there is the “shiduch crisis”, and then there is the “Doctor/Patient, Life and Death Crisis!” – the “ultimate crisis!” If only the Rosh Yeshivos and Rabbonim would address THIS medical crisis! If only they would!

  10. How about being dan lekaf zechus. The problem is that a good doctor has more people coming that s/he can handle. The suggestions about “just getting more doctors” is not real. You can always visit a second rate doctor, or clinic, if you don’t like waiting for a good one.

  11. I agree. The doctors in town should all stop taking in new patients. Let everyone else travel to freehold or oldbridge for medical care

  12. I’ve had where I called for an appointment and was told there was a waiting list and I will be called back when they can squeeze me in. And I just wanted a regular check up where I called as in advance as possible. I would happily switch practices but I was told all practices in Lakewood are like this. I’m not from here originally and this really takes getting used to.
    And I could go on and on about the OBs office….

  13. I totally agree you wait over an hour or more to be seen by a doctor and when he finally sees you he talks to you for three or more seconds and is walking out the door to see another patient he doesn’t even give you time to ask questions and he is out the door or they put you in a room and forget they put you there and after an hour you have to go out and remind them you are still waiting for them

  14. Chumash/Rashi takes me about 4-5 hours per week. That hour in the waiting area eases the way so that by Shabbos I get to sneak in a Ramban if I’m lucky.

  15. Most practices are like this. They overbook because if someone cancels or no shows then would lose money. Someone else said it above as well that they don’t get enough from government programs so they have to add as many patients into the schedule as possible and spend as little time with you as possible (nurses or nurse practitioners do most of the work and doctor makes a quick appearance, writes a script and on to his next appointment)

  16. I had to see an ear specialist years ago, and it was known that the weight is at least an hour or two. I waited from 5:00 in the afternoon till 11:00 at night to be seen.
    When the doctor finally saw me I was very agitated and he asked me why am I like this? I said I have been waiting since 5:00 in the afternoon, he responded, well I am here since 7:30 in the morning, I told him the only difference is between me and you, is that you are making money since 7:30 in the morning and I am just sitting and waiting to see you and not making anything.

  17. The practice I use is generally ok at not keeping you waiting in one place for more than half an hour (twenty seven minutes in the waiting room and then again in the exam room is not unheard of) but their billing is a mess. They have no problem billing you as a specialist despite being registered as a PCP. Then when you demonstrate to them that it is incorrect they simply notify the insurance company that you only paid the PCP copay instead of what they billed you. Is not OK.

  18. My kid was once seen by a specialist where the first appointment of the day was at 9:00. What we found out (it’s a good thing someone told us this beforehand) is that the office makes several appointments for the same time so that he goes straight from patient to patient. This in my opinion is not fair as that means that it’s first come first serve which should not be the case here.

  19. Yes we’ve all had this issue. I think they should make a call in appointment tracking system like we have for the busses in the morning, to see where they’re up to. If you miss your time then you need to reschedule but at least you wont have to wait idly by in a office

  20. I managed a medical practice for 9 years. Do the math. The cost of running a small, one location practice, is approximately 150,000 per month This includes the salary of the doctor and just 1 mid level practitioner (NP or PA) along with all the other staff plus all other expenses. They need to see many patients to just break even as insurance companies at times pay very little for a visit and find every reason possible to deny or delay payments. I can tell that the Doctor lose about 10-15 percent of collections for various reasons including patients not paying their bills. The average pay mix in Lakewood is 70-75% medicaid thet sometimes pay as little as 28 dollars for a visit. Commercial insurance pays between 40 and 89 depending if its a first time visit or not.m Offices need to see well over 100 pts a day just to BREAK EVEN. We need to get rid of all insurance companies (they make billions a year just pushing money around) have a one payer system with a sliding scale for premiums and pay the doctors a better rate. Then they won’t have to cram in so many appointments. The quality of care will increase and more medical students will take the path of general practitioners as opposed to specialists where the pay is higher. According to the AMA we have a shortage of 25000 PCP’s in America. Don’t blame the doctors, blame the insurance companies.

    • Well said!

      The single payer system works best, when done right. The current system is not capitalist, it is not socialist, it is grab grab grabist.

      However, I don’t trust America not to bungle it up.

    • This! And then what happens to good medicine is that it doesn’t matter wether you see 100 strep throat visits vs more time consuming things like sutures or chronic illness that just gets referred to another provider for times sake. It’s causing burn out among the fabulous health care providers who are STUCK STUCK STUCK in this messed up system of zero job satisfaction!

  21. It’s a chutzpah!
    And it’s even a bigger chutzpah if after waiting over an hour and than your appointment is rushed and corners are cut.
    Long wait times indicate that the doctor doesn’t care about your time as well as doesn’t care about you totally.
    Yes a doctor must overbook somewhat as some patients don’t show up, but up to 20 minutes is the normal waiting time, if an emergency comes up the patients must be told to come back a certain time or reschedule .
    Chemed is good as I go there before work and I never wait there too long, but Chemed doesn’t have any Cardiologists or such specialties so for them I drive far up north: Atlantic Health System, Summit Health System are excellent, they have the best doctors and are very organized and accept all NJ insurances.

  22. Oh, enjoy it now, because it’s just gonna get worse. How many people you know are in Med school pursuing Dr degrees ? I have several college age children, not one of their friends are In med school. They have some friends in nursing school, but that’s it.
    Rabbosai: Send your kids to Med school !!

  23. I discussed this with a PA in my doctor’s office at my last appointment. And he said very simply that in order for them to stay in business the insurance companies require them to see a large minimum amount of patients or they will not pay the doctor’s office. And yet they want to give each patient the time they actually need.

  24. How about looking at it this way: some docs will tell you he is booked solidly for the next two weeks. Instead, you got a same-day appointment and you were seen, treated, and prescribed your meds! Sorry for your long wait, but you got seen today!

    • That can be said for those patients who called for an urgent appointment. What about those who waited weeks (or even months in some cases) for an appointment and had the same wait time?

  25. It’s saddening many don’t understand basic economics.
    We are expecting “Cadillac service on a McDonald’s budget”
    You get what you pay for. With so many on Medicaid (70-75% if the comment above is correct) the only way the Doctor can survive much less make a decent living is by running a healthcare factory.
    My brother who lives elsewhere pays $2,000/year (it may be more now) to be a patient of an excellent Doctor. By collecting this fee he can & does accept fewer patients.
    This means phone calls & emails are promptly answered & he can quickly get in to see his Doctor who is not rushing him out the door.
    The world will never change.
    “You get what you pay for.”

  26. I find it odd that so many people have such strong feelings about this when none of them work in the medical field. I agree that there are many issues and wait time is one of them, but perhaps there is a reason for this. medical field workers are overworked and under payed. Employees are completely burnt out, yet this is the only field in the world where there is a nonstop need for them. You live in Lakewood, NJ. It is a town that is recognized as medically underserved. Meaning there are too few primary care doctors per the amount of people living here. I understand that it’s frustrating but you are not the only that has a child burning in fever. Everyone here does too, and everyone needs to be seen by these few doctors. Unfortunately when you have 500 people who need to be seen by the same 10 people there will be a wait. I’m not saying this isn’t frustrating, but you need to understand that this is the only way to help sick people. You are not the only one sick. Just because you booked the appointment earlier means that the next child should be told he can’t be seen for another 3 days even though he has 103 fever? Chas veshalom. Every person needs medical attention. This results in extremely long wait times. Say thank you Hashem for the times that you are healthy, and unfortunately if someone gets sick then yes, you will need to wait for a few hours just like everyone else.

  27. On a personal level the solution does not lay in better scheduling or handling of patients once at the office.
    The best way to reduce your personal wait time is by having fewer patients in front of you. The way I accomplish this is by wearing jeans, a YU sweatshirt & a Kippa Seruga. My cheap headphones share my Non-Jewish music with the entire waiting room. My preferred reading material is National Geographics “How evolution created the world we live in.” If this doesn’t work I start offering Cholov Stam (Read: Treif) candy to the kids. The mothers get all flustered with the uncomfortable questions & the whining for the candy that they storm out in a panic.
    Usually you can get 3-4 patients to leave (on a great day 5) which cuts down your wait time tremendously.
    The nurse once told me the wait was at least an hour. But after pulling my Shtick I was in the exam room talking to the Doctor in under 15 minutes.

  28. While this is not a correct way to treat clients, think about supply and demand. There is a practice I know of who has one doctor and one PA. For the PA it’s easier to get an appointment (2-3 days to week) and the doctor it takes longer. There are enough urgent care practices in Lakewood for emergencies. And if you know ahead of time that there will be an hour way for the “specialist doctor” then bring something for you and your kids to do. Not to take away from the inconveniences, but think about just a few generations back when they had to travel to the next town to summon the town doctor and use their savings to pay for their medications. That was the world they lived in, and this is the town you chose to live in.

  29. I am reading this back and forth with wonder, as working in a popular doctors office here in Lakewood, I deal with this all day. But please understand all of you that relocated to Lakewood have created this issue. There is an influx of people moving to Lakewood every year and you all did not bring your doctors with you. Everyone calls the office requesting to be seen and stating their emergency. The Doctors would love to see more patients and try to accommodate everyone even more than is physically possible.
    We are doing this to accommodate all of you that call us every day.
    We try our best to run on time but ultimately it depends on if patients come on time. traffic is not an excuse in Lakewood, moving here you knew about it and patients must plan accordingly.
    Please be considerate when calling your Doctors office and speak politely and calmly as we do our best to help every patient.

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