Why Do Doctors Run Behind? Reflections of a Medical Secretary

It’s no wonder why doctors run behind. From my 13 years of secretarial experience I have seen it all, both the doctors and the patients point of view. First, doctors are overbooked with trying to accommodate patients needs, wants, and sometimes demands. It sometimes cracks me up when patients call the office and ask to speak with the doctor, like he’s just sitting in his office waiting for a phone call. Sometimes patients call in and ask to speak with the doctor, but will not tell me what about!!!

Love that one!!! Like I haven’t heard it all, but it’s part of the job, so we explain to the patient that an appointment is required for professional medical advice. Another reason why doctors fall behind is because patients who are scheduled for one medical concern end up talking to the doctor about several medical concerns.

For example, a patient may be scheduled to come in for a lump on their arm and the doctor examines the lump and prescribes the proper treatment. But as the doctor puts his hand on the door to leave, the patient also expresses that they have been having some discomfort in their chest area for the past two days! SURPRISE!!!

As a physician, the doctor cannot morally leave the room and just ignore what the patient has said. He  then proceeds in making sure that the patients health is secure enough to leave the building. But in doing so, time is taken away from the doctor, the other patients, and the nurse who has a stack of charts complete with phone messages, prescription refills and specialist referrals, all to be done in an eight hour shift!

Think what you like, but this happens daily. . .several times!

There are also the normal occurrences that cannot be ignored, like walk-in emergencies. This happens more frequently then people realize. As a secretary, it can at times be difficult to accurately block off the time allotted for patient appointments and to be precise about the length.

Being a patient myself, however, I also realize the agony of sitting in a waiting room, sometimes with crying babies, and in the company of other patients, it can be quite scary. And once you’re finally called back to the exam room, you often find yourself sitting in isolation for a long period of time,waiting, until ironically

IT’S YOUR TURN!!! You’ve had a sore throat that’s been so bothersome that you need a diagnosis and treatment.

You are examined and treated, but wait, you forgot to mention that stomach pain that’s been troubling you for a week…and…and…and!!! Not to mention that your pharmacist informs you that the prescription is not covered by your insurance company and around we go again!

Phone calls, forms that need to be completed in order to convince your insurance company that your doctor knows what he is doing…etc, etc, etc

So why can’t I speak with the doctor? Why is he so far behind?

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