How hard is your doctor to reach?

It took me two days to get through to a doctor’s office trying to get a refill. Two days. They have their phones set up so that you get transferred automatically, put on hold, and then a message will come on and tell you that you’ll have to call back later and “This machine does not take messages.”

Having any phone system tell me to call back later annoys me, but to wait two days trying to get through infuriates me.

But maybe I’m being unreasonable. Is this common, having this much trouble reaching the doctor’s office?

He’s a great doctor, I mean great, but this is just aggravating.

I rarely have any trouble reaching the office, but if I leave a message for my nurse practitioner on Monday, I might get a call back by Friday. If I call Tuesday or later, I surely will not hear from her until the following week. Calling every day asking if she got the message doesn’t appear to help, either.

If I couldn’t even reach anyone at the office, I’d certainly be shopping around for a new doctor.

My only contact in a year with my doctor was recently…I needed a prescription refilled and the pharmacist faxed the request Saturday afternoon. It was ready to go on Monday.

Mine’s usually fairly easy to reach - leave a voicemail in the AM, and he (or his staff) will generally return it that afternoon, or he’ll call personally in the evening. Yes, I have gotten calls from him at home at night.

I never have any trouble. Occasionally I’ll have to hold for a few minutes, but I can always make and appointment either later the same day or the next day. When my pharmacy calls I can get Rx refills the same day.

I think I’d be pretty annoyed if I wasn’t allowed to leave a message.

Nearly impossible when she’s doing a prostate exam. Otherwise. . .

Try leaving the message “This is the medical examiner calling.”

Two hours, tops.

My doc’s clinic, where he’s among 10 or 12 docs, has a maddening phone chase-around. I live 5 minutes from there, and it’s faster to drive over and talk to somebody in person.

Well she can’t be very far back there. Limber up and try again.

Because I’m a “high risk” patient (and maybe because I have Cadillac health insurance and go to a very expensive doctor, who knows?), I can get put through direct to the “final nurse” (who can refill scripts, schedule me, give referrals, and talk directly to my doctor) about 90% of the time that I call. If I cannot, she generally calls me back within 2 hours, even if that puts it at night or on the weekends. The only time it took more than that was when both of them were off for the day.

If I leave a message on the nurse’s voicemail, I’ll usually get a call back within a coupe hours. If the doc wants to see me because of the message, she’ll see me the same day. The doc has called me at home at 7:30 at night to see how I was doing when I had a particularly nasty migraine.


We must be pretty lucky as well. We can usually reach our GP, our pediatrician, and the neurologist DH sees for cluster migraines within a couple of hours tops.

I got kind of pissy recently though… I’d see the GP for an ear infection, taken the meds & used the drops, and called her one week later to let her know it wasn’t clearing up. She made me come in again, which I did, and she gave me a different type of drops. A week later I called her back to let her know that they weren’t working and my ear still hurt like hell. She refered me to an ENT, who luckily was able to see me the next day. Turns out I had a 45 decible hearing loss in addition to the pain of the earache and he then put me on the HEAVY DUTY medication that I feel my GP should’ve given me the second time I went to see her. I suffered needlessly for an additional week for nothing :mad:

At my office, we have to call a patient back the same day. If the call comes in at 4:59, someone has to call them back before they leave so that they can tell them the office is now closed and someone will call them back tomorrow.

You should see if you can call your pharmacy for refills instead of the office. It’s much more effecient for everyone concerned. Call us for a refill, and we’ll direct you to call your pharmacy. Most offices do it that way. They usually ask for 24 hours to respond, and Friday requests will be handled by 5:30 Monday.

And just stopping by out of the blue might get you what you want, but it certainly won’t score any points with a staff that’s extremely busy, usually short-handed, and has established office policies that ensure that all patients get the care they need. Just stop by enough times, and the doctor may consider you a problem patient.

Our GP shares his office with two other GPs. I can’t remember the last time I called in the morning with something remotely important and didn’t get an appointment with one of them (not necessarily our own, but someone in the practice) the same day.

I definitely get one-business-day service. Are you by any chance calling durng lunch hour? While that is a convenient time for patients to call, I have called a few doctors offices that just plain close the phones over lunch. Calling solidly during business hours gets the best results for me.

Is this like what in the UK we term a “repeat prescription”? IE medicine you use regularly, such as for asthma?
Here I just drop off a request for a refill into the slot at the office and then call by to pick it up two days later.

Seems like a long time. Also don’t know why the pharmacy didn’t spot you a few day’s worth until you got it straightened out, particularly if it was a life sustaining item. Hell, I had a pharmacy spot me a couple of pills because I was out of town and forgot my meds.

I did have to call my doctor after hours to revise some pain medication (kidney stones) and the answering service method of communication worked great. He called me in less than 15 minutes. He couldn’t prescribe anything stronger so he sent to an afterhours ER.

It’s hard to get an appointment (although to their credit when I thought I might be depressed they got me in within hours) but it’s not terribly hard to talk to somebody. Perhaps not the doctor himself on the first go. My doctor’s office has the option of a nurse line, where you can speak to (or leave a message for) a nurse and often “doctor” questions can be handled that way, with the nurse talking to the doctor if needed.

However, they’ve recently piloted an e-mail consultation option. The co-pay is higher than a regular office visit, the rationale of which I can only imagine must be to keep volume down. Despite the charge, I’m glad to have it and can imagine using it for some ongoing but non-urgent issue.

After hours I get called back from whoever is on-call fairly promptly.

The last time I emailed my doctor with a health question, he got back to me within the hour.

It was late here in California, and he was in Chicago where it was two hours later, in the midst of a weeklong conference, but he took time out of his schedule to answer everything I had to ask and even call a prescription in to my local pharmacy.

Needless to say, I’ll be his customer for a long, long time.

I’ve never had a problem getting through to my doctor - they have an answering machine and a number to call after-hours to get an on-call doctor.

I had pretty impressive service from a pediatrician I took my son to recently. After the appointment (for something routine - nothing life-threatening or anything), he gave me his email, home number and mobile number in case we had any further questions or problems. I can tell you we’ll be going back to him if we need to.