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Posted on Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Take simple steps to avoid delays at doctor's office

By Dear Abby


I have worked in a medical clinic for 35 years and hear a lot of complaints about the wait for doctor appointments. May I explain some of the reasons for it?

Sometimes the doctor arrives late, but other factors can cause delays:

1. If you need to be seen, call first to get an appointment time. Most offices leave open spots to accommodate urgent-care matters. If you just walk in, we must work you in with patients who already have appointments, which pushes the doctor behind.

2. Do NOT come an hour early and announce in front of the entire waiting room that you must be somewhere and expect to get worked in before your scheduled time. Reschedule instead.

3. Always bring your insurance cards with you. Do not tell us to call another doctor's office to get the information.

4. Don't walk in with forms you need filled out and signed by the doctor and expect someone to take care of it immediately. It requires your chart to be pulled, a nurse to fill out the information and the doctor to look over the form and sign. Instead, leave the form. We'll mail it or call you to pick it up.

5. Don't expect to call the office and speak with the doctor in the middle of a clinic day. A nurse can usually handle the question. If not, she'll have the doctor call you back after seeing the scheduled patients. -- GENTLE REMINDER IN SIOUX FALLS, S.D.


Thank you for the reminders, which may help readers avoid some of the frustrations they encounter when going for a medical appointment. They are well worth the space in my column.


My husband and I have become fond of a delightful elderly couple, "Frank" and "Annie." We bought the home across the street from them 10 years ago. They have four children, two of whom live nearby.

Two years ago, Frank was diagnosed with dementia. They are adamant about staying in the house they've owned since they were newlyweds. This means more of the burden of caring for the house and finances now falls to Annie, who has health problems of her own.

We help out whenever we can, because I know money is tight for them. When their lawnmower broke, we bought them a new one, and with the help of another neighbor, we take care of general yardwork and house issues.

I am growing increasingly concerned about the state of their finances, and bewildered that their children never seem to help. They interact with their parents at birthdays and on holidays. I don't know the children well, but is there a way to help them understand that their parents may not be volunteering all their troubles?

Frank and Annie are proud of what they've accomplished, but now they need a little extra support. They never ask for help, but gratefully accept it if it's offered. Would I be out of line to communicate with our neighbors' family? -- LOVE THY NEIGHBOR


Out of line? Not at all. The "children" should be told about your concerns, and also the various things you and the other neighbors have been doing to help their parents. Sometimes the children of aging parents don't recognize the subtle changes that take place when a loved one has dementia. Bring it out in the open, and you'll be doing all of them a favor.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)