The Old Coot wants the truth

The big lie, “I’ll be right with you.” You get this when you’ve been in line for a while and finally it’s your turn. You step to the counter and hear, “I’ll be right with,” as the clerk runs to the storage room or answers their cell phone, or heaven forbid, closes the counter and goes on break. 

That’s bad, but the medical version is worse. You go to the check in desk, hand over your insurance cards, your driver’s license, state your birth date, answer a list of questions and find a seat after being told, “The doctor will be right with you.” Sometimes the doctor is, but more likely, you face an indeterminate wait: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes; time crawls by, because you don’t know how long it will be. And that’s just the first round. Next, you’re taken to the “little” room and get a second, “The doctor will be right with you.” No, they won’t! You get to gaze at anatomy charts and pictures of horrible repercussions of the malady you came to have checked out. It’s a grim wait. The minute hand on your watch barely moves. Each tick takes forever; you tap your watch to see if it’s working. Ten minutes becomes a lifetime, longer than the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas when you were a five-year-old kid. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t mind waiting for doctors if it’s because they are taking time with another patient to provide thorough and quality medical care. It is the not knowing how long the wait will be that causes the angst. It would be so much easier if you were told it would be 10 minutes; it will be 20 minutes, or whatever. And, then updated when that promised time has elapsed. The information is at hand; the person who told you the doctor would be right with you knows. It just isn’t dispersed and is the reason so many people are on blood pressure medicine. The profession calls it the white coat syndrome. But, it really is the undefined wait time that causes your pressure to go up! 

The next time I’m told that the doctor will be right with me, I’m not going to let it go unchallenged. “How long will I have to wait? And, what’s your name and birth date so I can follow up with you if you lied?” Let their blood pressure go up for a change.    

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