Sunday, 10 May 2015

Your Time is Money...Except at the Doctor's Office

A few days ago, I read a news story about a woman who waited in a Peterborough hospital for an hour and a half for a one-minute cortisone injection.  So what's so newsworthy about this?  Anyone in Canada who's ever been to a doctor's office or hospital knows what it's like to wait for what seems like an eternity for an appointment or procedure that only lasts a few minutes at most.  The difference in this case is that the woman has attempted to bill the hospital for the time she was kept waiting (see: Time is money, says woman who sent hospital $122.50 bill for wait time).

Personally, I would love to be able to bill doctors and hospitals for the seemingly endless hours I've had to wait for them.  Heck, I think if everyone got to bill their doctors for wait times, we would all be rich - and the health care system would be bankrupt.  Seriously, ask yourself how long you've had to languish in your doctor's waiting room with nothing but magazines in excess of a year old to occupy your time?  I'm betting that many of you have lost count of how many hours you've waited to see a doctor over your lifetime.  Now let's face it, sometimes doctors have legitimate excuses for making you wait.  These usually involve emergency situations.  But sometimes this is not the case, and doctors can keep you waiting just because they feel like it.  My feeling is that some of them have a sense of entitlement, believing that their time is worth more than everyone else's simply because they're doctors and the rest of us aren't.  For example, the woman who is the subject of the aforementioned article claimed that she and other patients were kept waiting while the doctor and his staff took a lunch break.  The woman also claimed that another patient asked the receptionist if he could go grab something to eat to keep his diabetes under control, only to be refused on the grounds that he might miss his appointment time.  How hypocritical can you get!?  The doctor and his staff can take off and grab lunch, but patients don't have that right!?  It's not the first time I've heard about this kind of double standard that some people in the medical professions seem to have.

I once had a doctor who I saw on an almost weekly basis.  In my opinion, he had a very large sense of entitlement and was just about the most arrogant person I have ever met.  He routinely kept me waiting for up to 30 minutes each time I saw him.  But God forbid if I was a few minutes late, he would give me a lecture.  In fact, one time when I failed to make an appointment due to a freak snowstorm, he charged me $75 for missing the appointment and then told me, "I hope you learn from this."  Meanwhile, whenever I suggested he was hypocritical because he was routinely late for my appointments with him, he would shrug and say that his frequent tardiness was due to situations beyond his control.  Uh, correct me if I'm wrong, doctor, but isn't the weather beyond my control?  My point is that there is a fetid stench of hypocrisy that surrounds people in the medical professions.  They get to bill us whenever we're late or absent, but we don't get to bill them whenever they fail to serve us in a timely manner.  The woman who billed the hospital for her wait time is obviously aware of this double standard, as I think we all are.  The difference between her and the rest of us is that she courageously took a stand against this hypocrisy by sending a bill for her wait time to the hospital.  I think that we should learn from this woman's example and stand up for our right as patients and taxpayers to receive timely service from the folks who work in our health care system, or to be compensated whenever we're kept languishing in waiting rooms for no valid reason.   

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