Waiting Room Tops Patient Complaints
Patients Generally Satisfied With Doctor-Patient Relationship, but Both Sides Have Gripes
Jan. 8, 2007 -- Most patients are satisfied with their doctors, but there
are complaints, particularly about time spent in the waiting room.
Meanwhile, doctors have their own peeves about patients, a new survey
The survey of about 39,000 patients and 335 primary care doctors appears in
the February edition of Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports conducted the survey in three phases last year.
The "overwhelming majority of patients said they were highly satisfied with
their doctors," the magazine reports. But the doctor-patient relationship
wasn't completely rosy.
Patients' Gripes, Doctors' Gripes
Patients' top complaint about doctors was time spent in the waiting room.
Nearly one in four patients (24%) said they waited 30 minutes or longer.
Other complaints from patents were:
- Couldn't schedule an appointment within a week: 19%
- Spent too little time with me: 9%
- Didn't provide test results promptly: 7%
- Didn't respond to my phone calls promptly: 6%
Doctors' major annoyance with patients was about not following prescribed
treatment. Almost six in 10 doctors (59%) voiced that complaint.
Doctors' other complaints about patients were:
- Wait too long before making an appointment: 41%
- Are reluctant to discuss their symptoms: 32%
- Request unnecessary tests: 31%
- Request unnecessary prescriptions: 28%
10 Tips for Patients
Heading to the doctor's office? These tips from Consumer Reports
might get you better care:
- Get referrals. Friends, co-workers, or relatives can
- Research carefully. When gathering health information,
consider the quality of the source.
- Make an agenda. Before your appointment, set priorities
about what you want to discuss with your doctor.
- Ask about email. If you don't have time to cover
everything in your appointment, ask if you can follow up by email.
- Bring someone with you. A friend or relative can help you
get your questions answered and remember what the doctor tells you.
- Tell it like it is. Be frank, honest; and don't be shy.
Bring up any conditions bothering you.
- Follow your doctor's advice. For example, don't stop
taking medications without talking with your doctor.
- Be persistent. Work with your doctor to find the right
- Switch doctors, if necessary. Not happy with your doctor?
There are others out there.
- Keep drug ads in perspective. If you ask your doctor for a
drug you saw advertised, understand he may or may not agree its the right drug
Nearly a quarter of doctors said they often get requests from patients for
drugs they saw on TV. More than half say they sometimes decline such
However, few patients -- 7% -- said they asked doctors for advertised
prescription drugs. (The patients surveyed weren't necessarily treated by
doctors who took the survey.)
Because they were subscribers to Consumer Reports, the patients
included in the survey may not be typical patients, the magazine notes.