Ontario docs are leaving – patients have trouble finding good doctors

{October 6, 2011}   When docs don’t behave well

Imagine, you’re nervous as you are facing surgery – you have a tumor and though they suspect it’s benign –  you have an appointment with the surgeon at a large downtown hospital.  Your appointment is for 10.00 a.m. but you’ve been told to arrive at 9.00 a.m.  The receptionist asks you a few questions and hands you a form to fill out. You sit down, look over the questions and fill out the form, easy, peasy.

It’s 9.15 a.m. when you hand the form back to the receptionist and you sit down with a magazine. You leaf thru the magazine and settle down on the recipe section.  You find another article to interest you…..   You stop reading because you’re just too restless to concentrate. Now you sit and look around at the other patients. It is a large waiting room but most chairs are occupied now and you wonder how many have come to see “your” surgeon and how many are ahead of you. You look for a coffee machine on the floor but the receptionist informs you there is none and you think you can’t go down to the cafetaria because your appointment is in 15 minutes and they might call you just when you’ve left!

Half an hour passes and there does not appear to be any movement. No one has been called so far. At 10.30 you ask the receptionist if it’s o.k. to slip out, go downstairs and grab a cuppa. She answers it’s not ok as they can’t be responsible if you “lose your place” when you’re called and you’re absent. You sit down again, mentally tracing the pattern on the carpet and studying the framed, uninspiring watercolour prints on the wall while going over your schedule for a busy day ahead. 

 At 10.45 a.m. the receptionist leaves –  to go and grab a snack from the cafetaria as you overhear her telling the young lady  who will cover for her. The young woman surely must be “new” as the older receptionist seems to be teaching her the ropes. You wait another 5 minutes but now you just can’t stop thinking about your coffee fix. You get up and walk over to the young woman and ask her if it’s o.k. to go downstairs for a coffee as you’ve not seen anyone being called in yet and how long does she think it will it be before it’s your turn?  She smiles at you and tells you: “Sure you can go and get a coffee, the doctor won’t be in until 12.00. You think you heard wrong but she repeats that the doc won’t be in until 12.00. You tell her that your appointment was at 9.15, so what happened?!  She smiles back beatifically and breezily tells you: “Oh, I know, but he likes his patients ready and waiting when he comes in”. You’re pretty sure she wasn’t supposed to tell you this but now you know anyway and you are doing a slow burn. You consider walking out but there’s nothing to gain from that and you’ve already spent precious time cooling your heels in the waiting room. So you stay ….  Finally you’re called in at 12.45 p.m. after spending almost 4 hours in his waiting room.

Bad Medicine? Not really!    Bad Public Relations?  Absolutely!   Grounds for a CPSO complaint?  No,  but a darn nuisance!

It happened 10 years ago to a friend. She decided to find another surgeon as she considered the waiting room experience a reflection of the work ethic of the man and as an assertive consumer, and based on the information she received, she decided to take her “business” elsewhere.  Fortunately she came thru the whole ordeal with flying colours.  The surgeon who kept her waiting is alas no longer living but how often is this scenario repeated in waiting rooms across the nation?

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