Other than traveling this summer, I have spent much of my time accompanying Irma to numerous doctor appointments - internists, a neurosurgeon, and several different specialists. While she is pretty healthy for an 88-year-old woman, she does complain about a myriad of small issues and always insists on seeing a physician whenever she discovers a new ache or pain. What I find unsettling is that even though Irma always has appointments, her doctors never see her at the prearranged times. Ever. And the latest excuse that these professionals give for being tardy is that "there was an emergency earlier in the day." I have heard this line so many times lately that I realize now that it is the standard explanation used in the medical field whenever a doctor is simply running late.
Last week, Irma and I sat in her gastroenterologist's office for two hours waiting to be called back. The receptionist apologized over and over that the doctor was running late due to "an emergency." When we finally did go into the examining room, we waited for another 30 minutes before the doctor came in. He was friendly and chatty for three whole minutes before he declared that Irma was fine and that we could leave. Two and a half hours of hanging out just to talk to the guy for three minutes! In July, after sitting for an hour in Irma's neurosurgeon's overcrowded waiting room, we were chatting with each other about the delay. Some other patients chimed in that the standard wait at this particular office has always been about three hours. Three hours? Really? Other physicians that we have visited this summer have been just as bad. What in the world has happened to promptness? Or even almost-on-time-ness?
In my opinion, doctors that continually make patients wait for hours and hours to see them are just inconsiderate. In the case of a true "emergency," I think that receptionists could call patients to let them know that there may be a lengthy delay. After our repeated experiences this summer, I have come to the conclusion that physicians - and particularly Irma's physicians - are always going to be extraordinarily late. I don't agree with this practice and I certainly don't like it, but I have come to expect it. Sad that this is normal for so many doctors.