I remember when I was an intern, I came in to see some patient in some clinic (I like to be really specific in these details). Anyway, we were pretty behind, and the patient had been waiting a long time to see a doctor. And of course, when I got into the room, he didn't want to talk about his medical problems at all, only the fact that he'd been waiting for like an hour.
There was nothing I could say to this guy to calm him down. It was like, he'd wasted all this time waiting for us, then decided he just wanted to waste his entire appointment. And him wasting more time wasn't doing the other waiting patients any favors.
The thing is, we doctors get it. We don't like running behind. And we are patients too and have experienced it from the other end. When I was pregnant, I used to wait an hour sometimes for five minute OB checks, and it got to the point where I decided that if I had another baby (I won't), I would never use that practice again.
These are some of the many reasons why falling behind is not the doctor's fault:
1) Patients who do not show up on time throw off the entire schedule. Or a patient may show up on time and then there's some issue when they're checking in that ends in them being roomed late.
2) It can be hard to predict how long you will spend with a patient. It's not like baking a cake where you put it in the oven for X amount of time. You can't say to a patient that their 20 minutes are up, so seeya. You must address their issues and that can again throw off the whole schedule.
3) Patient don't show up or cancel at the last minute. Seems like that should make the schedule run faster, right? Not really. If you know that a certain number of patients will cancel or no-show, then in order to be able to pay your huge overhead and not starve, you have to book patients with that in mind. Then if they all show up, you may be screwed.
4) Emergencies come up frequently. In my OB practice, I know things got backed up when doctors would get called out for deliveries. Or even if it's not an emergency per se, it's some phone call regarding a patient that you absolutely must take at that moment, or something else that must be done at that moment.
5) Sometimes you are forced to overbook because a patient really needs to be seen.
I'm sure there are tons more reasons that aren't coming to mind right now.
But here's the thing that I don't quite understand:
I mentioned how long I had to wait for appointments with my OB during my last pregnancy. During my first pregnancy, I used a different practice (in a different state), and I never had to wait more than like ten minutes to get in for appointments. Ditto with pediatric practices I've used--some consistently had a very long wait, others would always take us in right away.
So what's the difference between these practices?