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Is your doctor too busy?

On Behalf of Christian Ayers
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You go in for an appointment with the doctor, hoping they can shed some light on your condition. You know something is wrong, and it’s changed your life dramatically, but you don’t know what you’re dealing with. You want to find out and it’s incredibly important to you to get a quick, accurate treatment plan.

Unfortunately, when you get to the office with this issue you haven’t stopped thinking about for months, the doctor gives you about five minutes. Half of the time, they’re looking at the clock or checking their phone. They rush out of the room as soon as they can, before you even have a chance to ask all of your questions.

It’s frustrating. You feel like they don’t care. You also feel like the diagnosis is likely wrong because they didn’t take the time to learn enough about your condition, and you worry that the treatment plan they gave you will either do more harm or at least not treat the real problem.

Why does it happen?

This is a fairly common complaint. People often feel like the doctor is always in a rush. It can even lead to issues like miscommunication, mistakes, a delayed diagnosis and other instances of medical malpractice. A doctor who is in a rush cannot give you the care you need, so why does this happen?

One major reason is that doctors who see more patients often earn more money. They know it. They want to cram as many people onto the schedule as they can. They do not want any downtime. Doctors should not work merely for the money, but money is an incentive to get through appointments quickly and move on to the next one.

This also leads to packed schedules that make it impossible for doctors to slow down and listen — even when they know that they should.

“When you have that pressure to see three, four, maybe five patients an hour, you can’t wait for the exposition of the patient’s story,” one doctor said in an interview with NPR. “Which is exactly what you should do. But you can’t.”

While that is driven by money, it is also driven by a desire to actually see every one of those patients on time. If the doctor waited for an extra 10 minutes with the first patient, every single appointment after that would be late.

Your options after a mistake

The reality is that doctors are going to keep rushing, and it is going to keep causing mistakes. It’s just how the system is set up right now. If you suffer due to one of these mistakes, make sure you know about all of the options in North Carolina that you have.