Let us pretend we have an appointment at the ENT physician at 11 o’clock. When do we expect to be able to leave the surgery when the medical examination lasts about 10 minutes -quarter past eleven one could suppose? However, taking a closer look into the waiting rooms of all different kinds of physicians tells us another story. Waiting times of an hour seem normal, waiting times of several hours are not the routine, but nevertheless they occur. Such waiting times should be deemed unacceptable due to several reasons.
Prolonged waiting times increase the risk of infection through other waiting patients. Being ill increases one’s risk to catch other illnessess as well. In waiting rooms – usually much too small and badly ventilated – several of these people sit together closely and cough or sneeze at each other. While waiting they touch the furniture and – if provided – magazines and spread their germs all over the room. A second related problem is that people do not feel better after several hours of waiting at the doctor’s, quite the opposite is true.
Waiting times at the doctor’s make you feel even worse, while those hours spent at home could make you feel better in most cases due to a more comfortable atmosphere and a bit of rest. It needs to be considered that some people feel extremely uncomfortable while waiting. In the case of visiting one’s general practitioner – especially in the case of “common” illnesses -one is usually not extremely anxious. Nevertheless there are people who feel very uncomfortable even when having to enter a waiting room or a surgery.
Especially children often have anxieties about visiting a doctor. However, obviously everyone who has an illness which seems not so common or easy to cure is afraid of awaiting the doctor’s diagnosis. The same is true for painful examinations. Reducing the waiting time would therefore reduce the strain put on waiting patients. One of the most striking aspects of this issue is that the waiting time for specialist doctors in case of no acute diseases has a huge impact on our economy.
Let us recall the scenario of waiting for the ENT physician, because you have a chronic rhinitis. This disease does not make you unable to work, nevertheless you have to probe its causes. Therefore having an appointment at the doctors implies to take your time off or your employer has to release you from work to go and see the doctor. In all these hours when people sit in the waiting room doing nothing millions of Euros are lost, because these people are prevented from working.
So, waiting times do not only put a strain on the individual, but also influence our economy. Finally there is the argument that there is no real point in making all the patients wait for a certain amount of time. Every physician is able to handle a certain number of patients per hour. Of course the length of time spent with the physician can vary, but every physician should have enough experience to avoid hours of waiting time as the duration of time spent with them usually does not vary in such great amount.
However, when physicians patients are constantly waiting for them, they cannot lose even a minute of being able to treat a patient (i. e. earning money) in their working hours because they have to wait for someone because their estimated time for the other patients was shorter than expected. From all this, it follows that waiting times at the visit to a physician are the cause of inconveniences for the individual patient and the economy. Waiting times increase the risk of infections due to a longer contact with other ill persons in the waiting room.
Additionally, sitting in a waiting room is not beneficial to one’s health in comparison to a quiet and peaceful stay at home. Another aspect is anxiety while waiting. The longer a patient has to wait for a treatment or diagnosis, the longer s/he has to bear the anxiety. A further problem is that it is not only the individual patient who has to endure long waiting times, but the country’s economy suffers as well due to the fact that patients while waiting for the doctor are not able to pursue their work.
Last, but not least there is no real reason for long waiting times as every physician should be aware of the fact that s/he can only treat a certain number of people within a certain amount of time and that these times to do not vary as significantly as the waiting times for patients do. Therefore we must conclude that waiting times when visiting a physician are unacceptable and cause many inconveniences for the patients. Physicians all over the world should be made aware of this fact and should seek or be forced to seek reduced waiting times for their patients.
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