There is a blog being circulated right now that addresses frustrations over doctor tardiness. The woman who writes the blog is married to a pediatric physician and wants everyone to remember the reason why a physician might be running late to a dinner /next appointment/ anniversary date night / sporting event. There is always an appointment before our own. She writes:
“We may never know what struggles the child and parents are having in the appointment before our own.”
Several times on this blog I have written about the preciousness of physician time – one study found that doctors in training have only 8 minutes per patient. 8 minutes. Take into account the work hour restrictions placed on new physicians and time certainly becomes a hot commodity. Studies have shown that more patient time means less diagnostic errors. Errors in diagnosis account for the highest percentage of malpractice claims.
Time is everything to a doctor. The time to conduct patient rounds, the time to run a code, the time to dictate a note, the time spent with the patient learning their entire history before coming up with a treatment plan. Time spent away from family and friends.
My husband recently worked three weeks straight at the hospital. Sometime in the middle of this work marathon, he called me to tell me that he would be coming home early. To celebrate, I threw together what I thought could pass as a home cooked meal and waited for him to come home. An hour later, he called and said that he wouldn’t be able to make dinner after all – he had to attend a conference with a family whose mother was dying. That was a dose of perspective.
It is hard to keep perspective when forced to wait on your doctor/husband/wife/father/mother. The article serves as a good reminder of the reasons why a doctor might be running late and to give them a hall pass every once in a while.
You will certainly be grateful when you are the reason the doctor is late.