Should You Dump Your Doctor?
What to do when your doctor disappoints: Expert advice on seven real-life situations.
Problem: Your Doctor Is LateAn occasional delay is excusable―if, for instance, your ob-gyn had to perform an emergency C-section and the office kept you posted on her expected return. But "any wait over 30 minutes is grounds for, at the least, walking out and rescheduling," says Karen Hickman, a corporate etiquette consultant and a former nurse in Fort Wayne, Indiana. That said, consistent promptness isn't common. A 2005 survey by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that only 20 percent of adults were always taken to the exam room within 15 minutes of their appointments. "If you choose to wait, ask the receptionist if the doctor is in the office and running late or if he's out of the office," suggests Pamela Gallin, the author of How to Survive Your Doctor's Care. When he does appear, ask if there's anything you can do to minimize the delay next time. If the doctor admits to frequently running behind and being on time is important to you, "it might be time to look for a new doctor," says Vicki Rackner, a surgeon in Mercer Island, Washington.
Problem: You Weren't Called With Test ResultsTest results should be delivered in a prompt, clear, respectful way. Anything less merits a complaint to your doctor. If the doctor doesn't apologize, consider looking for one whose office is run more professionally. Some offices have stated policies that, for instance, they'll mail good news and call with bad. If you'd prefer to stick with the doctor, bring a self-addressed, stamped envelope to your appointments and request that your results be mailed to you. Or just accept that you'll have to be vigilant about following up.
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