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Avoid delays at doctor's office

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.

Dear Gentle: 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.

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.