Hightower: A Patient's Bill of Rights

At last, someone is asking a stand, putting their foot down and screaming: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!" The issue: doctors who book an appointment with you, expect you to be on time, then leave you in the waiting room -- waiting -- and waiting -- and waiting -- 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour -- where is that so and so? And you know the doctor's not wasting any time on you, since when you do manage to get in the doc gives you a rush job: "Where does it hurt? "What's your group insurance number? I'm sending you downstairs to take some expensive tests. Here's a prescription for some expensive drugs. See the clerk outside to make your next appointment. Nice talking with you." -- and the doc is gone! Well, now for some good news. Peter Geiger, editor of the Farmer's Almanac, is leading a crusade against doctors who make us wait -- or, as he puts it, doctors who are afflicted with CLS -- "Continual Late Syndrome." In his 1996 Farmer's Almanac, Geiger prints a "Patients' Bill of Rights" for us to sign and present to tardy doctors. It says: (one) if the office is running more than 20 minutes behind schedule, the staff should try to reach us patients by phone so we can come later or reschedule; (two) if we're kept waiting in the office, have someone explain why; and (three) if we're kept waiting more than 20 minutes for three different appointments, we get a free doctor's visit. One can understand having to wait for medical emergencies that come up, but these office delays happen over and over. And as Geiger puts it, "We need to be treated with common courtesy." Bingo, Mr. Geiger! And all of us here at the Chat & Chew Cafe send out this cheer to you folks at Farmer's Almanac for giving us fed-up patients a way to express our impatience with inconsiderate doctors.

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