Why do I have to wait in my doctor’s waiting room past my appointment time? Why are they running behind? I think they forgot about me…. Let’s face it, we all hate waiting for things, especially for an appointment that we may not really want to be at anyway. Why do doctors run behind?
Being a dental assistant, I see what goes on behind the scenes of a dental office and circumstances that cause us to run late. I think it’s good for a patient to know that we aren’t keeping them waiting on purpose. It’s as frustrating to us as it is to them and we’d like to take a moment to maybe get a little understanding as to why this happens.
One thing that can get us off course is the patient not being on time for their appointment. If a patient shows up 10-20 minutes late for their appointment and our schedule is booked, that can really get us off track. Usually we can recover from that but if it is treatment that is pretty intense, it can be hard to catch up.
Another thing that can put us behind is unforeseen circumstances when the patient is in the dental chair. If treatment turns into something more complicated once the dentist begins work on a tooth, it can definitely keep things backed up. Not everything can be seen on an x-ray to be able to predict what is going to happen. For instance, if a patient is in for a filling and a cusp of a tooth fractures off due to weakness, well, that tooth may now need a crown and since they are already numb, we’ll probably go ahead with it.
We also see a lot of emergencies. It is unfortunate for a scheduled patient to have to wait because someone else was squeezed into the schedule, but when patients are in pain, we want to see them as soon as possible to alleviate that problem. Or if a patient breaks off a front tooth, that can be pretty traumatizing for them to walk around like that so we like to see them quickly to fix it.
Some patients that are scheduled for something simple, like a filling, may come to their appointment with another problem that they want addressed also at that same time. It would probably be better to reappoint them, but if it can be taken care of, we try to do our best to get ‘er done.
As far as hygiene appointments go, the same situations can happen where someone is having a problem, the doctor needs to do an exam and orders an x-ray, goes on to do other treatment, has to come back to look at the x-ray and talk to the patient about options. Patients can have a lot of questions which they should have every right to, but it does take time to address them and that can add up.
We also have to spend time cleaning the room appropriately. We ain’t gonna be skipping any steps there bub, that is for sure. It takes time to thoroughly clean a treatment room after a patient has left and we hope you appreciate that you are entering a sterilized room.
There are numerous circumstances that can cause doctors to run late. These are just a few that I have seen with my own eyes. We all want to do our best to take care of our patients’ needs and make everyone feel that their dental needs are just as important as the next person.
At Szmanda Dental Center, we do our very best to stay on schedule and we are pretty good at it. There are times when things do happen, it just takes a little understanding on everyone’s part and it all works out in the end.
Written by staff at Szmanda Dental Center 2014