You made arrangements to take off work, you picked up your child from your mom's, you got to the doctor's on time. And now ... you sit. Your heels are cooling, and...
You made arrangements to take off work, you picked up your child from your mom’s, you got to the doctor’s on time.
And now … you sit.
Your heels are cooling, and your temperature’s rising. There has got to be a better way.
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We’re here to fill you in on the best time of day for a doctor’s appointment. The worst time to call a specialist. The best way to talk to your doctor. The things not to do once you get in.
These secrets come from insiders who see what goes on behind the scenes: Donna Johnson, director of medical affairs for the Wichita Clinic; pediatrician Patsy Barker; and Kristy Horyna, a nurse at Mid-Kansas Pediatric Associates.
Best time of day for an appointment: In most cases, early in the morning or right after lunch, before the doctor has a chance to get too far behind. But remember that surgeons and obstetricians, for example, could get caught up in a procedure and might not be on time even then.
8 don’ts in the doctor’s office
1. Don’t tell your child he won’t get a shot when you know he will.
2. Don’t tell him it won’t hurt when you know it will.
3. A doctor’s appointment isn’t a “two-for-one.” If the appointment is for your daughter’s earache, don’t ask the doctor to take a look at your son’s rash, too.
4. Don’t be a no-show. If you can’t keep an appointment, call and cancel. Someone else might be waiting to get in.
5. Don’t forget to tell your doctor about all the medications you’re taking. That includes vitamins and other supplements. Know your medical history, too.
6. Don’t wait until the last minute to call for a prescription refill.
7. Don’t wait until you’re on the phone to decide what pharmacy you want to use if you’re calling about a prescription. If it’s for your child, know his weight and allergies. You get extra points if you also know the pharmacy’s phone number.
8. Don’t assume that all doctors talk to each other and that all reports are sent automatically to your other doctors.
Worst time of day for an appointment: Between 11 a.m. and noon or between 4 and 5 p.m.
Worst days for a routine appointment: Mondays and Fridays. Mondays are crowded with patients who were sick all weekend and want to be seen now. Fridays are crowded with people who don’t want to be sick all weekend (or don’t want their kid to be sick all weekend) and want a cure now.
Is it OK to call to see whether your doctor is running behind? Absolutely. But before you show up late, make sure patients will be seen in the order of their appointment, not in order of arrival.
Best time to call with a question for the doctor or nurse: Between 9 a.m. and noon, or between 1 and 4 p.m. Avoid first thing in the morning, the lunch hour and late in the day.
Worst time to call with a question: Late in the day. Many offices let messages pile up until there’s time to pull files to look up information, which they need to do even for what seems like a simple question. And they deal with questions in the order they’re received, so if you call late, yours might not get answered that day.
Worst time to call a specialist’s office with a question: Mornings. Many specialists spend mornings at hospitals, so if your question can’t be answered by the nurse, you’ll wait. And wait. And wait.
Should you research your ailment before your appointment? Yes, as long as you understand that your physician might recommend something different. Don’t assume that what worked for your neighbor also will work for you. Medicine is not an exact science.
Worst time to try to remember what you wanted to ask the doctor about: While you’re sitting on the exam table, half-naked. In that situation, “We all tend to forget what it is we wanted to talk about,” Johnson said. Make a list of your questions ahead of time, and take the list with you to the appointment.
Worst time to call for a prescription refill: After 4 p.m. In fact, some offices won’t even consider a prescription refill at that time of day.
Best way to get your doctor’s attention: Be direct. Studies have shown that many physicians spend only a short amount of time listening to a patient before starting in on their own agendas, perhaps because something in your chart caught their attention or because they heard only the first part of what you told them. If you have something that’s a concern to you, say so: “This is of concern to me.”
Best way to keep the receptionist (and everyone else) happy: When you call to make an appointment, be specific about what you or your child needs to be seen for. If a doctor is expecting a two-minute earache check and you bring up three other concerns as well, plus a, “Can we do his MMR booster while we’re here?” you won’t be popular with the nurse, the doctor, the receptionist or the other patients. Most receptionists know how much time to allow for what kind of visit, so tell the truth.
What if my child loves his doctor but hates one of her partners? If you’re making an appointment for a routine visit, call early and be flexible about dates. If you’re calling because your child is sick and needs to be seen that day, call early and ask about your options. If there are none, grit your teeth.
Best way to keep a toddler occupied in the waiting room: Let her play with the toys or books that are there, if she’s healthy. If she’s not, please take along her favorite toy, book or blankie. And interact with her.