Thursday, February 28, 2008

When is Enough, Enough?

Yesterday I took our elderly neighbor to the doctor in Pinehurst, a town about 30 miles away. This was the second time I've done this and both times were a less than positive experience.

Both times the wait just to get in to see the doctor (with an appointment) was over 3 hours! And both times the entire trip (including driving the 30 miles one way) was over 5 hours!

At first the waiting room only had a few people in it but as the hours went by, it became crowded with people. Most of the patients were elderly, some even appeared to be on the brink of death, and I cannot believe a doctor who has taken an oath to try to help people and not to harm them could be so callous! I think the doctors in this medical office were definitely doing harm. I'm sure blood pressures were sky-rocketing as people ranted about the wait. When the medical personnel were asked why the wait was so long, they were told that the doctors were very thorough and that took time.

To me, that is certainly not a valid answer. Doctors are supposed to be thorough, aren't they? And knowing how "thorough" the doctors are, shouldn't the scheduling reflect that? As I said, I've only been to this particular office twice,but I gather from the other patients complaints that this is a regular occurrence.

Which brings me to another question - why are these patients putting up with these long waits at the doctor's office? And, if I'm willing to drive my neighbor to her appointments, am I as foolish as the patients to do it?

I like to think that, as a Christian, I will cheerfully help someone in need. Our neighbor is a widow who has no children and whose other family members live quite a distance away. The woman doesn't drive and has arthritis so bad in her knee that she can barely walk even with a walker or a cane. One can't help but feel sorry for her.

But, if tending to her health plays a part in destroying mine, is it time to withdraw my help? I have decided that it is. If this is an ongoing problem at this doctor's office, I don't want to be a part of it. To me, this doctor is a thief and I'll not let him steal from me.

That may sound harsh, but I was brought up to be on time. My mother always told me that if I couldn't be on time, be a few minutes early instead of being late.

I was also taught that when you're late, you've stolen time from someone. We've all heard that time is money, and, in a way that's true. But time is also life. Being late steals a chunk of someone's life that they can never get back.

There was also a thing on being chronically late on one of the talk shows (Oprah maybe?) I actually don't watch tv much but this caught my attention. Anyway, a psychologist was saying that being habitually late was actually an act of aggression and dominance. Evidently the person who is always late feels that their life is out of their control but feels that they can assert a certain amount of control over their lives by being late. I'm not a big fan of psychology but this sounds logical in a convoluted sort of way!

However, I guess I'm dealing more with my conscience and trying to work out whether I'm being selfish by refusing to drive our neighbor to her appointments. This blog is rather a public place to argue with your conscience but isn't this what blogs are for?


Jeanette said...

You've hit a nerve with me on this one. My previous doctor was soooooooooo slow and I spent ages in a waiting room.

Finally, one day I'd had enough. I told the receptionist that I was a busy person and if they couldn't keep appointments, I would simply bill the doctor for my wasted work time.

I got in.

Jan said...

Good for you! In some offices, if you're late or don't show up for your appointment, they either won't let you in or will charge you for the visit. It's about time the tables are turned!

Of course, I realize that some of the problem falls on patients who are chronically late but I applaud the doctor's offices who refuse to see them if they're late by so-many minutes, etc. There's gotta be a solution here somewhere!