Is it me? A few weeks ago I visited my dentist. Normally I’m on time or early but on this occasion I came panting to the reception desk four minutes late. Stood there waiting for the receptionist to return. And stood. And waited. Some three minutes later the Unsmiling One arrived and spoke. “Mr Collins, you’re late for your appointment. X [my dentist] has started working with the next patient.You’ve missed your appointment You were supposed to be here at 3.40. ” I try not to grind what teeth I’ve left and ask “What time is it now?” “It’s after ten to four”. I look at my watch: it says 3.47. I tell her this and and add that I was waiting about three minutes for her. Then, daringly, I add “The last time I had an appointment here I was kept waiting over twenty minutes. Shouldn’t it cut both ways?”. The Unsmiling One gives me a look and tells me she’ll speak to X. “Take a seat”.
Much whispered conferring between UO and X. They peer round a door at me, whisper some more. Eventually X emerges, white coat, green mask, professional. “That’s all right – I’ll take you but you’ll have to wait a while – I’m with another patient”. “That’s good” I tell him. And then I make my second mistake. I add “But I think you should know that I wasn’t ten minutes late, I was four. And I was waiting at the desk for another three”. X looks at me, face now red and sort of annoyed-looking. ‘Yes, but you WERE late!’ And he strides away and half-bangs a door behind him.
Twenty minutes later I’m in the chair getting a filling, which he precedes by giving me THE most painful injection I’ve had in years. Coincidence? Or could he possibly have made it really hurt? Maybe not, although we’ll never know. It certainly was a humdinger of an injection, leaving me groaning and panting in the chair.
There are two lessons here, I think. Dentists (and doctors) can make you the patient wait as long as they want, and do so on a regular basis. You the patient on the other hand must NEVER keep the dentist/doctor waiting. If you do you’ll be sorry. I know I was.
I’ve never been late for the dentist since I noticed a warning on the receptionist’s desk stating that a £15 fine per 15min late fee would be charged. Assuming they charge approximately the same per hour for the work they do, thats £480 per 8hr day x 3 dentists at my surgery, and they’re always busy as I’m always waiting at least 10/15mins after my stated appointment time.
My worst dentist experience was in England in 1993 with painful injection, an extraction from hell and then sent to the waiting room with gauze while the dentist served another patient.
This would NEVER happen in Canada where you get wonderful doting care and remain in a comfy private dental chair until the dentist returns.
Also Canadian dental receptionists all smile, showing off their beautiful teeth. And then if you are late, they can politely forgive you, speaking through their brilliant teeth.
My advice: be patient, i.e. be a patient and bring a book. Or come to Canada for royal dentist treatment!
You must have a public dental system or why would you put up with such a diva dentist? Perhaps, it’s time for a change?
I can suggest that if you’re going to be late call ahead and let them know–it could make a difference in the kind of reception you get. Also, use the 15 minute rule–get there 15 minutes prior to your appointment so your file goes on the top and you’re in ahead of those who are running a few minutes behind.
Although, it’s totally a private system here in Canada I once forgot my appointment altogether (silly me for booking the first day of school and they don’t call you the day before to remind you). I’d been seeing the same dentist for over 20 years and always arrived 15 minutes early. However; I was “punished” by having to wait six months for an appointment, which meant going a year without dental care (ick). At least they didn’t charge me for the missed appointment or torture me with a painful injection–poor you.
The other day I was stuck in traffic at the entrance to a tunnel on the way to my doctor’s office and was going to be late, so I put my cell on speaker and speed dialed her office. The receptionist was fine with it as was my doctor. I ended up being 15 minutes late. I guess it balances out as yesterday I was 20 minutes early and the doctor was 20 minutes past the time of my appointment seeing me.