Berate For Running Late, Part 2

, , , | Right | September 29, 2020

I am a medical assistant, which is essentially a personal assistant to a doctor or other medical provider. When you check in at a clinic, often it is a medical assistant that gets you back into a room and asks you questions before you see your provider.

On this particular day, I am working with a physician’s assistant. We are looking at our schedule and note that [Patient #1] is ten minutes late for his appointment, but [Patient #2] is at the clinic and ready to be roomed. To top it off, the appointment reason indicates that it should be a very easy issue to address and therefore should be a quick in-and-out.

After rooming [Patient #2], I notice that [Patient #1] is marked in my schedule as ready to room and that he’s had this status for five minutes. It is now twenty minutes into a thirty-minute appointment, meaning he was a whole fifteen minutes late. The provider and I agree that with [Patient #2] being relatively easy, we can see [Patient #1] in the next appointment slot — originally [Patient #2]’s — and that we should, theoretically, end up more or less on time.

I quickly turn over my second exam room and go get [Patient #1]. This is where it all falls apart.

Me: “[Patient #1]?”

[Patient #1] grumbles as he gets up and walks to me.

Patient #1: “It’s about time!”

I put on a cheery smile and resist the urge to remind him that he was late.

Me: “I appreciate your patience. We’ll be right this way.”

Once we are in the exam room, he glares grumpily at me.

Patient #1: “Why are you guys always running late around here?”

I still try to be non-confrontational.

Me: “I couldn’t tell you about other providers, but sometimes we just have things come up. We do our best, of course.”

I start asking him questions pertaining to his visit.

Patient #1: “You medical people always demand that we show up fifteen minutes early and bring all of our cards and fill out paperwork, but you can’t manage to be on time? I just don’t get it.”

I think, “If you HAD been on time, this wouldn’t be a problem!”

Me: “Well, as I said, I appreciate your patience with us.”

I finish rooming the patient about ten minutes into the [Patient #2]’s appointment slot. The provider goes in almost as soon as I’m done. She ends up spending a full forty minutes because he keeps complaining to her about being late and brings up other medical issues that are not related to the appointment visit. All in all, we end up being about twenty minutes behind. As he is leaving:

Me: “I hope you have a great rest of your day!”

Patient #1: “Next time, you need to be on time!”

The next time he is late, he’s not getting worked in. Ugh!

Berate For Running Late

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