I hope there is more than one competent urologist in Manila, because I just “wrote off” my doctor at Makati Medical Center yesterday morning… If there is one thing that will curdle my blood, it is unprofessional behavior by supposed professionals. And yes, I consider excessive and unexcused lateness (or a no-show) to be HIGHLY UNPROFESSIONAL. I know, I know, Filipinos supposedly have a Latin (or is it a Malayan?) propensity for being tardy, but I would argue vehemently that it isn’t genetic, rather something learned, tolerated and eventually, habitual.
More than two weeks ago I made an appointment to see my urologist on Saturday, July 6 at 10am. My grandfather had prostate cancer, my father died of it and numerous uncles, cousins and a sibling have had prostate cancer as well. Suffice it to say it’s in the genes, and I have a very high probability of getting it… Dad had his first prostate exam in his late 60’s and that was far too late… I distinctly remember that day. We had lunch and he proudly announced he was going for his first “digital exam” and he was quite impressed with technology those days. Hours later he showed up at our home, stuck his middle finger out and pointed it at Mrs. MM and indignantly declared “DID YOU KNOW THIS IS CALLED A DIGIT?!?” Whoa, did he have a rude afternoon surprise or what? :) On my 40th birthday, I vowed to get regular medical check-ups to avoid the worst surprises. I found myself a reputable doctor, did the required exams every few years, and in-between got blood tests for PSA readings. So far, so good…
Saturday morning I headed to the hospital at 9am, to bring the Teen to a different medical appointment. My Chief of Stuff headed over to the urologist to tell them I was in the hospital and he signed me up at 9:45am, already number “6” on the list of folks told to show up at 10am (what is the use of an APPOINTMENT time if a dozen people are told to show up at the exact same time?). At 9:50am, I showed up at the urologist’s office and was told to wait outside. The doctor hadn’t arrived yet. Several other patients were waiting, including one elderly man who arrived in a wheelchair, and he sat beside me. 10:15 comes along and not a single patient has been summoned. 10:30 and we are all still waiting. Apparently the doctor isn’t there yet. 10:45 am and still no advice. Now there are 8-10 people who have travelled to the hospital from near and far, who have waited patiently for 60-80minutes long and there is still no doctor in sight. At this point, there is already an estimated 700 or so minutes in wasted patient time, the equivalent of 1.5 man days of work! If the average patient valued THEIR time at say just PHP500 per hour, that would already be PHP6,000 in wasted time. Double that cost and we are up to PHP12,000 in lost value, lost time, and mounting irritation. Some folks, perhaps like the doctor, might value their time at say PHP8,000 an hour (if they charge PHP800 per person and see a 10 folks per hour) and if that were true, then we are talking PHP80,000+ in wasted time value…
At roughly 10:49, the doctor’s secretary emerges from her office to announce that the doctor would be late (DUH?!), and that he wasn’t expecting to get in before 11:30am, and that was not certain either. Would the 10 patients be willing to wait that long? F#@!&%$ ABSURD. For a 10 am appointment, she was now asking all of us if we would wait until AT LEAST 11:30, and since I was number 6 on the list, I would most likely be seen at say 12:15 or later, assuming he arrived. I told her this was TOTALLY UNPROFESSIONAL and asked her WHY he was late, and she answered “kasi traffic eh, he’s still in Greenhills…” to which I BLEW A GASKET. I would understand if he was held up in an operating room, or if he stopped to save a car accident victim, or if a previous patient tried to blow up his car with a stick of dynamite … but to be told that he was simply “stuck in traffic” at 10:50am many kilometers from the hospital when he should have been at his desk at 9:45am is really begging for a rant. The elderly gentleman beside me, heaved a heavy sigh of frustration. He said he waited THREE HOURS the day before and the doctor NEVER EVEN SHOWED UP. He had waited 1.5 hours today and he left, limping, with the aid of a cane, clearly disgusted. Note that 10 patients, some of whom were from the North where the doctor was driving in from, all managed to get to the hospital before 10am, while he was 1.5+ hours late. Of course, the doctor was leaving on a foreign trip the next day, so if you didn’t suffer the wait today, they couldn’t reschedule a missed appointment for a couple more weeks… And there was no guarantee he would show up then, either!!!
I told the secretary that I wouldn’t wait, and I would also never come back and would find another doctor instead. I asked her to write on his paper that I had indeed arrived before the appointed time, and that they waited nearly one hour before advising patients he would be yet another 45 minutes late or more, and I asked that she write the reason for the delay and sign it with her name. Of course she plain outright LIED. She refused to write that she informed us of the delay at 10:50 or so, and instead of writing “traffic” as she had said in front of several patients, wrote “because of an unfortunate event.” Not only was the doctor acting in a totally unprofessional manner, what should have been the hapless secretary in the middle, decided instead to add fuel to the fire. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The doctor, was, in my opinion, simply unprofessional. Ideally, he should have exerted every effort to get to his office on time. He had paying and some SICK patients waiting for him. If he couldn’t arrive close to the appointed time, say within 15 minutes or so, he could have EASILY called his secretary ahead so she could then advise patients by text or phone that the doctor would be late and they could try and use the time a bit more productively. The doctor was simply arrogant if he thought that wasting a good 1.5-2.5 hours of 8-10 patients time was acceptable behavior, almost regardless of WHATEVER he was doing during that time. A professional, thoughtful, well-mannered person would only HAVE TO CALL to let folks waiting know what was going on. Expecting them to wait for him for several hours is poor form, period. Like I said earlier, an unforseen medical emergency might be an acceptable excuse, but not informing his office while 10 clients sat waiting, is simply inexcusable, in my opinion.
I personally consider chronic lateness (particularly in a professional setting such as a doctor’s office) to be the ultimate sign of arrogance and self-centeredness. It is disrespectful, displays a complete lack of manners and wastes an incredible amount of time/effort. Yes, it is a pet peeve. Professionals should show up on time, particularly when you have made appointments weeks in advance and customers are paying for the service. I try never to return to a professional who doesn’t have the basic ability to show up for an appointment on time. In this case, the doctor in question lost several clients that day, and probably permanently. Did he care? Probably not. Another sign he was lacking in the professionalism department… Neither he nor his secretary bothered to call the patients who left in disgust to try and re-schedule their appointments, or simply to apologize for the hours they were forced to wait for the doctor to arrive. I will NEVER go back to this particular doctor and I will tell everyone I know to avoid him like the plague. If more people stuck their middle fingers at twerps like this, the less of them we would have to tolerate in future. Hospital administrators should police their own ranks and get rid of bad apples that spoil the rest of the bunch. As much as possible, I am taking my business to another hospital from now on. Isn’t it amazing that in thousands of flights I have taken in my lifetime, not once has a delay been blamed on a pilot not showing up on time. Nor have I been to a major sporting event like a boxing match, tennis final, NBA game, NFL match that started more than a few minutes late because the pros were stuck in traffic. And yet I have run into several doctors who thought they were so important and valuable that they regularly forced patients to wait excessive amounts of time just to pay for their consultations with the doctor…
On a brighter note, I have noticed that this kind of arrogant doctor behavior is not necessarily the norm at Makati Medical Center… in recent months, appointments our family members have had at OB doctors, dermatologists, cardiologists and pulmonary specialists have all been done on an appointment basis, with minimal waiting time, and the doctors have all shown up. They are far more patient-centric and I hope these types of doctors flourish in future. I fully understand that patients can also be no-shows, and just as I would be livid if a doctor didn’t bother to show up, so should patients be charged if they made an appointment and didn’t cancel out beforehand.
If you didn’t read one of my more amusing rants on MMC doctor appointment experiences from six years back, you may wish to read this amusing post.