Why Do Doctors Run Late?


Doctors run late at times because:


1) Doctors have to deal with unexpected emergencies.
A patient may present with a medical problem that requires urgent attention and extra tests such as a heart attack like chest pain that requires an ECG, or a laceration that needs sutures.


2) Some days, it can be very hectic for the doctor with numerous interruptions such as phone calls from hospitals, pharmacies, community nurses, allied health, faxes with urgent requests for information, reports and scripts.


3) Patients sometimes arrive late for appointments, hence patients at appointments later in the day are affected.


4) Patients do not book enough time for the problem they have come with.
For example, people may present with difficult emotional issues that take more time than expected. In other times, patients have an extensive list of problems they want to discuss but booked only a short appointment. In this situation, it is important to discuss the more important problems first and rebook further appointments at a later date to resolve the rest.



How Do You Minimise The Waiting Times?


1) Come well prepared
Make sure your Medicare card is up to date. Prepare a note about your symptoms and past medical history. In addition, it is helpful to have a list of your current medications and allergies. This will facilitate your doctor to get through your problems more efficiently and allow more time for your consultation.


2) Be punctual
It is fundamental in reducing your waiting time. If you arrive late, most doctors will move onto the next patient, who arrived early or on time.


3) Check with the receptionist regularly after you have arrived
We recommend whilst you are waiting, to check with our staff every 20 minutes whilst you are waiting to ensure you have been logged into the appointment system. Occasionally, patients who arrive on time were not successfully computed into the medical appointment system and may be waiting for protracted times until it is realised much later.


4) Let the receptionist / nurses know if you are here for a pregnancy test, health assessment, breathing test (spirometry) etc so these tests can be performed while you are waiting to see your doctor.


5) Ring the receptionist to make sure your doctor has received the reports of your investigations beforehand especially if you are doing 3-4 different complex investigations. Sometimes, certain X – ray providers may provide a printed report of your imaging studies. Please bring the films and X-ray report to your consultation.


6) Ring well in advance if you cannot make your appointment as your appointment slot can be allocated to some one else who is more in need of the consultation and this will possibly free up more time for you when you make an appointment later in the day / at another time.


7) Don’t request peak times during the day.
Book the first appointment early in the morning, or come on rainy days and in the middle of the week – they are usually quieter. Mondays are usually busier.


8) Don’t request peak times during the week or the year.
Avoid short weeks such as weeks with a long weekend and the day after a public holiday – they can be very busy. The week before Easter break or Christmas can be busy as well.


9) Book ahead and please do not leave it until the last minute. If you come in as a “walk in patient” without appointment, patients with a confirmed appointment will be attended to first unless you have a medical emergency.


10) Be reaslistic in your expectation and be aware a delay is possible when we are dealing with lives of people which can be unpredictable. For example, the patient before you may have an emergency medical condition or a life crisis that needs a lot more time than that allocated.



How Can I Ensure I Can Get The Best Possible Care?


1) Choosing a new doctor can be a challenge, especially if you have moved to a new community. Asking for recommendations from colleagues, neighbours and friends is a good way to start.


2) Choose a doctor that you like and try to continue your care with the same doctor. If you swap doctors frequently, valuable clinical information may be lost and this may lead to a more unnecessary investigations and possibly delay in a timely treatment.


3) Come to your appointment well prepared with a succinct list of your main concerns and symptoms. If it is a complex medical issue, please put these into a chronlogical order. Please also advise your doctors an updated list of your medications and allergies. This will help your doctor manage your medical issues more efficiently and allow you more time in the consultation.


4) Be honest and truthful with your doctor. Making a diagnosis involves processing numerous pieces of information. It is a bit like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. If you intentionally withhold a piece of information, it may lead to a lot more unnecessary investigations and worse still, to a wrong diagnosis.


5) Bring a small note book to write down the advice and instructions of your doctor and follow through with the recommendations. These may include blood tests, imaging studies, life – style modifications or referral to specialist. Please also take the medications as requested. Non compliance with medications is one of the common reasons that a patient is not getting better.


6) Please advise your doctor if you do not understand the instructions or explanations given. Sometimes, your doctor may use more simple terms and illustrations to bring a message across.  You may wish to bring someone with you to also listen.  If there is a language issue, please book an interpreter service beforehand and allow a longer appointment time slot if possible.


7) Diagnosis is a stepwise process. At times, it may take a few visits for a more complex problem to be diagnosed and treated. Sometimes a diagnosis cannot be made or a condition is not treated to your doctor’s satisfaction.  In these cases, your doctor will refer you for a further opinion.






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