Monday, November 5, 2007
Medical Reports: Secrets of the System
Sick and tired of waiting for hours at the doctor's office? Or worse, worried about a prescription foul-up at the pharmacy. Seven's Richard Lemus shows you the Secrets of the System for better health care.
WSVN -- The average wait time in a doctor's office: 47 minutes.
But we all know those minutes often turn into hours.
Juan: "An hour and 15 minutes. It's ridiculous. You want to switch doctors, but they all do it."
Claudia: "Oh, gosh. The longest I believe was three hours."
Donna: "Probably the longest time is up to an hour."
Renee: "Two and half hours. It was horrible. We are at their mercy."
Even scarier is the number of people hurt or killed by medication mix-ups each year: 1.5 million.
Liz Finney: "My pill is a tiny, tiny peach pill. This pill was a totally different color."
Instead of getting Zocor for high cholesterol, Liz Finney mistakenly got Zoloft from her pharmacist.
Liz Finney: "They gave me 100 milligrams of Zoloft, which is a psychotropic drug."
With stories like that, we all worry about what could wrong at the pharmacy.
Everyone is sick and tired of waiting for the doctor.
But there are secrets of the system that insiders know, which can eliminate those problems.
Diana Dahlson: "If you want to avoid sitting in the waiting room, the best appointments are the first appointments in the morning or the first appointment in the afternoon."
Even taking the last appointment of the day can be a good idea because the docs are usually caught up and want to go home.
The days you're most likely to play the waiting game:
Diana Dahlson: "The busiest days are Mondays and Fridays and the day before or after a holiday."
Also try to avoid government or school holidays.
Esther Gonzalez: "If school is out, that's when teachers and lots of people who have that time off are going to get their appointments."
Another hint, ask your doctor if he or she "double books."
Diana Dahlson: "If they do, they might assign two to three patients to the same time, so that's going to cause you to wait in the waiting room too."
The phones are always ringing at any doc's office.
Your best bet? If it's not an emergency, wait until after 10:30 in the morning to call.
By then, urgent calls have been answered, and the phones have died down.
Getting a call back from your doctor can seem impossible, but there are tricks for that too.
Esther Gonzalez: "The best way to get a doctor to call you back is to be very specific as to how urgent your emergency is. If you're not specific or urgent, you'll go to the bottom of the pile."
To avoid a prescription for disaster, like a medication mix-up, ask your doctor to write details on your prescription.
Drugs like Celebrex and Celexa, can easily be confused at the pharmacy.
Dorel Suboni: "To avoid confusion, the doctor can help us out by writing out the diagnosis. If he tells you it's being used for depression, we can determine it's Celexa instead of Celebrex, which is used for inflammation."
To make sure you don't have to wait in line for your script, Have your doc call or fax in a prescription.
An added bonus, it reduces handwriting errors.
Dorel Suboni: "We'll be able to avoid any transcribing errors and reading errors that we might have based on his handwriting."
And for the best service, stick with one pharmacy.
They'll know which meds you're currently taking and will be alerted to new drugs that could cause a dangerous interaction.
And one final secret of the system: don't underestimate the power of the Internet.
Many doctors now let you schedule appointments online and communicate through email.
(Copyright 2007 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)