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How To Avoid Long Waits at the Orthopedist's Office

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Updated March 24, 2013

Hate waiting around at the doctor's office? Here are a few simple steps that can help you avoid a long wait and expedite your trip to the orthopedic surgeon's office.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Depends

Here's How:

  1. Try for an early appointment.
    It's much more likely for your doctor to be on time in the early morning or early afternoon. Find out when the first appointment of the day is, and see if you can schedule that time.

  2. Call ahead if you have time constraints.
    Call your doctor's office and see if appointments are running as scheduled. If time constraints are a concern, ask if arriving at another time (earlier or later) could help avoid a wait.

  3. Arrive a few minutes early.
    There may be paper work, insurance forms, or other administrative details that need attention prior to seeing the doctor. Arriving a few minutes ahead of time will help ensure these are completed prior to your appointment time.

  4. Ensure you have a referral if needed.
    Many insurance providers require a referral prior to being seen by an orthopedist. Make sure your referral is dated properly and allows your orthopedist to perform any necessary tests, such as x-rays.

  5. Bring pertinent information.
    If you have relevant studies from other doctors or hospitals, bring that information to you appointment. If you were treated at an emergency room, arrange to pick up copies of your x-rays and discharge information. Also make sure you have an accurate medication list including the correct spelling of the medication, dose, and number of pills taken.

  6. Get copies of x-rays, MRIs or other studies.
    If you have had studies done by another doctor or at another facility, bring those with you. A report is helpful, but the actual x-rays or MRI are often needed for review. Obtaining these ahead of time can often save you an extra visit to the doctor.

  7. Write down your questions.
    Often in a busy office, patients may forget an important question they wanted to ask their doctor. Be sure to write down any important issues you want to address, and have this ready when you see your doctor.

  8. Let the office know if there's more than one complaint.
    If you are booked in a slot to discuss your knee pain, and you have issues with your back and shoulder as well, you need to let the office know when you book the appointment. If multiple issues need to be addressed, more time may need to be reserved.

  9. Try to be understanding.
    As a physician, I know there are times when problems cannot be avoided. Health emergencies do occur, and sometimes a scheduled appointment can take longer than expected. That said, your schedule is just as important, and doctors should work to ensure your time is not wasted. Hopefully, the above steps will help you move through the office in a timely manner.

Tips:

  1. Tell your doctor if you're unsatisfied.
    If you are upset about your wait, tell your doctor, not just the office staff. Your doctor should know if his or her schedule is creating long waits for patients.

What You Need

  • Insurance referral
  • Medication list
  • X-rays, MRIs, or other studies (not just the reports!)
  • List of questions for your doctor
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