According to the Boston Globe, a recent study reveals that patients seeking nonurgent appointments with Boston medical specialists may have to wait anywhere from an average of 50 days to up to a year before they can actually see the doctor. While delays to see some of the area’s top medical professionals are not uncommon, doctors say a 2006 health insurance law that required hundreds of thousands of people to get insurance coverage has only added to the long wait.
Consulting and physician recruiting firm Merritt, Hawkins & Associates conducted the study, which surveyed 1,162 doctors’ office in 15 metropolitan areas. According to the findings, new patients wanting to schedule a non-emergency visit with an orthopedic surgeon, a dermatologist, a family practitioner, a cardiologist, or a gynecologist/obstetrician had to schedule their visit at least three weeks in advance of the actual visit or longer.
Reasons for nonurgent visits that required this type of wait time included gynecological visits, complete physicals, and appointments to check for skin cancer. The survey failed to report whether the appointment delays affected patients’ health or chances of recovery. Regardless, there are some important facts you need to know about what can happen when a patient’s diagnosis is delayed.
While many patients may have health issues that are non-life threatening or conditions that are mild or minor enough that delayed diagnosis and treatment won’t affect their health or the outcome of their medical cases, immediate detection and diagnosis can make a huge difference for some people.
Delayed diagnosis can not only affect a sick person’s prognosis, but it can alter the kinds of treatment required. If a person is at the beginning stages of a heart condition, any type of cancer, diabetes, or another kind of disease, then invasive, painful, and costly procedures (such as surgery, the removal of a breast or another body part, or intense chemotherapy) may be avoided if treatment is begun early enough.
Wrong diagnosis and delayed diagnosis are two common grounds for filing Boston medical malpractice lawsuits against medical specialists and other physicians that failed to diagnose or treat the patient in a timely manner.
Waits to see Hub doctors grow longer, Boston.com, May 15, 2009
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