Observations on Waiting times.

It is interesting that insurance and health care companies are rating doctors on their on time performance rather than on the outcomes. Unfortunately as a doctor, I have asked patients and families to wait for me for exams or surgery throughout the 3 decades I have been a physician. I regret that this happens from time to time as I know that everyone’s time is precious and limited. As a physician I see patients that are referred for “a simple problem” only to find out that it is as complicated as a ball of knotted string that you are trying to untangle. No, you are not allowed to cut the string or throw it away, you must save the knotted string and keep it whole but straighten it out as there are no replacement strings, no spare parts. So you must take your time and fix it no matter what. In this scenario, the outcome is more important than the time it took to fix it. This leads to delays and lengthy waiting times. Does anybody want the staff or doctor to cut corners and take short cuts? Any body want timely but second rate surgery? No we all want the best we can get, there really is no place in medicine for second rate is there?

I recently had the experience of being on the other side, my wife needed surgery and I was the family member waiting “patiently” as her doctor fixed a problem that others could not fix. We waited for five and a half hours to just get into the out patient surgery suite as he was working his magic with the previous patient that had a similar or worse problem. We did not pace, we did not ask when are we getting to surgery or what was the matter. I knew he was sweating bullets trying to fix someone else and he did not need to worry about me or anything else but the problem in front of him at that time. My wife’s turn would eventually get here and it did. He was grateful for our patience with the situation but not as grateful as I was to him for solving my wife’s problem as the wait time is unimportant. I would not want a hurried job that was not his best effort just to be “on time”.  Medically speaking I want the best performance he can deliver and I will wait for it to happen as time is not as important as the outcome. Remember: there are either no spare parts or replacement parts as good as the original parts you were born with. Try to maintain and fix them correctly the first time.

“Just my 2 cents”, PVH

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