In a perfect world, you would walk into a doctor’s office when you were dealing with a medical issue, check-in at the front desk, and get taken right back to visit with your doctor to discuss your problem.

But of course, that is often not the way that doctor’s offices work. Most people are forced to endure a long wait in between the time they walk into an office and the time they get to meet with their doctor.

In fact, the average wait time at a doctor’s office is almost 20 minutes. It’s enough to make some people want to pull their hair out.

A long wait at the doctor’s office can do more than just frustrate you. It can also take a toll on your health in some instances.

Here are five potential health effects of long wait times at the doctor.

1. Prevents People From Getting the Urgent Medical Care They Need

If a person is dealing with an urgent medical issue, they should not visit their doctor’s office. They should instead take a trip to the emergency room at their local hospital for help.

But there are some people who go to their primary doctor’s office first when they’re experiencing an urgent medical issue, and the long wait time associated with doing it doesn’t do them any favors.

People end up sitting around in pain while they wait for their doctor to see them. They also end up seeing their conditions get worse in some cases as they sit in a waiting room.

This can result in them requiring more medical attention than they needed at first. It can make a bad situation worse and have serious repercussions in certain instances.

2. Causes Some People to Leave a Doctor’s Office Without Being Seen

There are many people who can’t afford to spend all day sitting around waiting for a doctor to see them. These people have a simple solution to dealing with a long wait time at a doctor’s office: They leave.

One survey showed that about 30% of people have left a doctor’s office without seeing a doctor because of a long wait time in the past.

You can imagine the impact that this can have on their health. Whether they’re trying to see a doctor for a routine check-up or to find out why they aren’t feeling well, skipping a doctor’s appointment can be detrimental to a person’s health in both the short and long term.

3. Makes People Wary About Scheduling Doctor’s Appointments in the First Place

According to a study done a couple of years ago, about 44% of people admit to not seeing a doctor on a regular basis. These people avoid going to the doctor for a variety of reasons.

Some of them don’t go to the doctor because they can’t afford to do it. Others don’t go to the doctor because they don’t think they have anything to worry about health-wise.


But there are also people who skip the doctor’s office because of the long wait that comes along with it. They dread spending an entire morning sitting in a waiting room flipping through outdated magazines.

Does this sound like you? You could benefit from concierge medicine in a big way. It’ll help you see a doctor as often as you need to without forcing you to spend a second in a waiting room.

4. Creates Tension Between Doctors and Patients During Appointments

By the time people are able to make their way back to see their doctor at a doctor’s office,they’re often stressed out and frustrated by how their visit has gone. This can, unfortunately, create tension between doctors and patients.

Even though it’s not really a doctor’s fault when people are forced to wait to be seen, people tend to take it out on their doctors when they have to wait for a long time. They’ll get short with them and take the wrong approach to trying to deal with whatever medical issue they’re in for.

The tension can prevent a doctor from providing the best care for a patient. It can also cause them to—often inadvertently—rush through an appointment with a patient to avoid an unnecessary confrontation with them.

In the end, both the doctor and the patient will be left wondering where the appointment went wrong. And the patient’s health will usually be the thing that suffers as a result of it going awry.

5. Exposes People to Illnesses in Waiting Rooms

Many doctor’s offices have started to create some separation between those that are sick and those that are just visiting for a routine check-up in their waiting rooms. The two groups of people are often placed on opposite ends of the rooms.

But despite this, those who aren’t sick can still be exposed to illnesses that they wouldn’t come into contact with otherwise when they experience a long wait in a waiting room. This can result in them getting sick at some point in the near future.

To their credit, doctor’s offices do their best to limit the interaction between sick and healthy people. But this is just one more way in which a long wait at a doctor’s office could prove to be detrimental to your health.

Prevent a Long Wait Time During Your Next Doctor’s Office Visit

Now that you know how a long wait time at a doctor’s office can impact your health, how about taking steps to avoid spending too much time in your doctor’s waiting room?

Consider scheduling appointments early in the morning from now on so that your doctor won’t ever be “running behind” again. Or start seeing a doctor that works out of an office that makes it a point to see patients within a certain amount of time.

By doing these kinds of things, you can steer clear of ever having to endure another long wait at a doctor’s office. It’ll help you stay healthier and make going to the doctor a more pleasant experience overall.

Take a look at our blog for more articles on health.