In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 28, 2008 / 26 Nissan 5768

Impatient Patients

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: I'm often stuck in the doctor's waiting room for hours! Doesn't he owe me something for my wasted time?

A: The Shulchan Aruch (authoritative Code of Jewish Law) states: "One who puts someone into a room and closes the door on him, preventing him from working, is liable for his lost time." This is certainly how the patient (or parent) feels — as if he or she is trapped in the doctor's office.

But realistically, a patient is not imprisoned in the waiting room, and it's not really fair to expect the practitioner to compensate you for your time — which after all you're not using for the doctor's benefit.

Still, so many readers asked this question that I am devoting a special column to how we can deal with this exasperating situation with dignity. Like most interpersonal dilemmas, the key to curing the waiting-room blues is mutual thoughtfulness.

Patients should keep in mind that there are many valid reasons for delays. Greed and sadism are not really the only factors at work! For one thing, the carelessness and missed appointments of patients themselves compels practitioners to overbook in order to keep hard at work at all times. When people do show up, long lines are the result. A better on-time record for patients will ultimately mean shorter waits at the doctor's.

Another reason is emergency calls. As one doctor exclaimed when I asked him about this problem, "How am I supposed to know when some woman is going to come in with chest pains?" We expect the physician to put his regular schedule aside when we have a medical emergency; we need to have patience for the extra wait this imposes on us when, thank G-d, there is no emergency.

One thing patients can do to shorten waits is to call ahead. If you have a two o'clock appointment, call the receptionist at one! If she says that the doctor is just now taking patients with 11:30 appointments, you know that you don't have to arrive any earlier that 3:15 or so. Of course doctors and receptionists should be forthcoming with this information.

Physicians should contribute their share too. If you really care about your patients' time, don't wait for them to call - have the receptionist call up patients and inform them that their appointment is delayed! If possible, allow them to reschedule. A small extra investment in receptionist hours can save your patients dozens of hours each day.

Practitioners can also adopt more effective scheduling practices. Dr. Leon Zacharowicz informs me that he has dramatically cut no-shows at his practice by not giving exact times for distant appointments. Instead, the patient is at first given a generous advance "window" in which to schedule; a few days beforehand the patient calls to set an exact time. (Example: in November the patient is told to call "in two months". Only at the beginning of January does the patient call back and set an exact time. Of course the practitioner has to learn to keep enough empty slots for patients who have been instructed to call.)

If emergencies are an ongoing part of a practice then the schedule should partially reflect this. (Probably obstetricians and cardiologists have more of these than dermatologists.)

The best advice of all is: take it easy! Learn to take advantage of the waiting time. It is ironic that the harried parent who is chafing at the long line at the pediatrician is the same parent who complains that he or she just doesn't have enough time to spend with the children. And the busy executive who is apoplectic about the wait at the periodontist is the same person who complains that he or she has no time for Torah learning.

A final note: for anyone who thinks that long waits at the doctor are something new, here is an excerpt from a letter written eight hundred years ago by Maimonides, who was not only one of the greatest scholars and leaders in Jewish history but also a prominent physician: "I do not return to Fostat until the afternoon. Then I am famished, but I find the antechambers filled with people, Jews and Gentiles, nobles and common people, judges and policemen, friends and enemies — a mixed multitude who await the time of my return. . . . [I] ask them to bear with me while I take some light refreshment, the only meal I eat in twenty-four hours. Then I go to attend to my patients and write prescriptions and directions for their ailments. Patients go in and out until nightfall and sometimes even, as the Torah is my faith, until two hours or more into the night."

SOURCES: (1) Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 420:11; Maimonides' letter to Shmuel Ibn Tibbon


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


You've enjoyed his columns on JWR for years. Now the Jewish Ethicist has culled his most intriguing — and controversial — offerings in book form.
Sales help fund JWR.

© 2008, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics