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Avoiding Long Waits at the Doctor’s Office

One of the biggest complaints about a visit to an orthopaedic surgeon’s office is the wait. Naturally, no one likes to wait, but there are a few simple steps you can take to avoid delays and speed along your trip to the office.

To Avoid Long Waits:

  1. Try for an early appointment. Your doctor is much more likely to be on time in the early morning or early afternoon. When you call to make your appointment, see if you can be the first one that he or she sees.
  2. Call ahead if time is tight. It’s a good idea to call your doctor&rsquo:s office and see if appointments are running as scheduled. If time constraints are a concern, ask if arriving at another time (earlier or later) could help avoid a wait.
  3. Get there a few minutes early. There may be paper work, insurance forms, or other administrative details that need attention prior to seeing the doctor. Getting there a few minutes before your appointment helps ensure these are completed before the doctor sees you.
  4. Ensure you have a referral if needed. Many insurance providers require a referral BEFORE being seen by an orthopaedist. Make sure your referral is dated properly and allows the doctor to perform any necessary tests, such as x-rays.
  5. Bring pertinent information. If you have relevant studies from other doctors or hospitals, bring that information with you. If you were treated at an emergency room, arrange to pick up copies of your x-rays and discharge information. Also make sure you have an accurate medication list including the correct spelling of the medication, dose, and number of pills taken.
  6. Get copies of X-rays, MRIs or other studies. If you have had studies done by another doctor or at another facility, bring those with you as well. A report is helpful, but the actual x-rays or MRI are often needed for review. Obtaining these ahead of time can often save you an extra visit to the doctor.
  7. Write down your questions. Often in a busy office, patients may forget an important question they wanted to ask their doctor. Be sure to write those questions down and have them ready when you see your doctor.
  8. Let the office know if there’s more than one complaint. If you’re scheduled to discuss your knee pain, and you have issues with your back and shoulder as well, you need to let the office know when you book the appointment. If multiple issues need to be addressed, more time may need to be reserved.
  9. Try to be understanding. Physicians know there are times when problems cannot be avoided. Health emergencies do occur, and sometimes a scheduled appointment can take longer than expected. That said, your schedule is just as important, and doctors should work to ensure your time is not wasted. Hopefully, the above steps will help you move through the office in a timely manner.
  10. Tell your doctor if you’re unsatisfied. If you are upset about your wait, tell your doctor, not just the office staff. Your doctor should know if his or her schedule is creating long waits for patients.

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