You may wait here in the sitting room

This is not the least bit heartening:

By the time a new patient hears the words “the doctor will see you now,” it may have taken weeks or even months to get that appointment. Need to see a dermatologist in Boston? The average appointment wait time is a staggering 72 days, according to a recent survey.

“It’s often said what sets apart the American healthcare system is that if someone encounters a problem, they can schedule an appointment and be seen by a doctor at any time,” said Daniel Ehlke, an assistant professor of health policy and management at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center School of Public Health. “But if you look closely at the local level, it usually takes a considerable amount of time to see a doctor.”

Merritt Hawkins, a healthcare consulting firm, conducted a survey [pdf] to determine the average time new patients have to wait to see a doctor in 15 metropolitan areas. The survey focused on five medical specialties: cardiology, dermatology, family practice, obstetrics / gynecology, and orthopedic surgery.

The average wait time was over 18 days. Orthopedic surgery was the only specialty that averaged less than 14 days.

And that was 2014. There’s no reason to think things have improved since then.

Unless someone cancels between now and then, I have a 33-day wait to see the neurologist. By then, I might be dead. (And right now, that looks like the preferable outcome.)

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12 comments »

  1. McG »

    20 June 2016 · 10:19 am

    The more the government tries to “fix” health care, the more disincentives it creates for would-be providers. This is known as “bad luck.”

  2. fillyjonk »

    20 June 2016 · 10:49 am

    Yeah, it seems like it’s got worse since ACA. And it’s unlikely to get better: anecdotal evidence is that the vast majority of medical-science-specializing students here want to go into nursing, become PAs, or do general practice; few want to be specialists, which makes me wonder if it’s become much more financially/paper-work-wise unattractive to become so.

    I’m glad my GI adventures of January never rose to the level of my requiring a gastroenterologist. I might well still be waiting to see one. (Hm. Maybe that’s part of the conspiracy: make them wait long enough and the problem might go away)

  3. Jean »

    20 June 2016 · 9:43 pm

    Saw your tweet on the sidebar.
    Hoping for the best for you.

  4. DINK NEWCOMB »

    20 June 2016 · 10:17 pm

    A few years back, I had a torn plantars fascia in the sole of my foot (a ligament, to the best of my memory). I was working near Savannah so I went to a doc there who kept me hobbling around in agony for 2 weeks (he told me I had gout) until he referred me to a foot doc. I got an appointment 6 weeks in the future. It was the worst pain I have ever had but the only doc who could fix it sooner was Dr Kevorkian.
    Finally, after being in serious pain for 8 weeks, the day arrived– along with a strong hurricane which was predicted to come ashore in Savannah and devastate the city– the city evacuated! This must have been a global warming “scientist” in training because it was not really too strong and came ashore about 50-60 miles further up the coast in SC. i called to reschedule the next day– you guessed it, 6 more weeks! 14 weeks in agony because of a bad doc. The foot doc started helpful treatment immediately and prescribed appropriate medicine and A PAINKILLER THAT WORKED. If this is the best medical system in the world, what must it be like in some disgusting cxrap hole like Zimbabwe or Venezuela?

  5. Brian »

    20 June 2016 · 10:23 pm

    Wow. I just read through your Twitter feed. I hate that you are going through this. You wouldn’t know me from Adam, but you’ve been in my life for many, many years through your blog.

    I’m thinking about you. We’re all pulling for you.

  6. canadienne »

    20 June 2016 · 10:50 pm

    I second Brian, above. There are undoubtedly a horde of people who know you only through the blog who are wishing you well and hoping for the best.

  7. Brett »

    21 June 2016 · 6:31 am

    Adding my thoughts to the above.

  8. Lynn »

    21 June 2016 · 8:16 am

    Probably not helpful but in a similar situation I think I would be the squeakiest wheel possible. I would tell them six weeks (or whatever) is not acceptable; I need to see someone today and I would tell them that twice a day every day until I got in. They would hate me but I would not wait six weeks.

  9. Lynn »

    21 June 2016 · 8:18 am

    Also, if all else fails move to Colorado. [wink wink]

  10. Jay »

    21 June 2016 · 11:40 am

    Our prayers are with you. Rest, recover, and know you have many who care and wish you the best.

  11. John Salmon »

    21 June 2016 · 12:20 pm

    Hope you’re feeling better!

  12. CGHill »

    21 June 2016 · 7:00 pm

    Full(ish) report to follow shortly.

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