Respect the space and privacy of others in the doctor’s office.
Going to the doctor’s office is rarely a pleasant experience. Whether you have a specific medical problem or are simply there for an annual physical, you may prefer to spend your time somewhere other than a waiting room or exam room.
But the atmosphere becomes much worse when good manners no longer apply. Rude behavior in a doctor’s office is not only unpleasant, but can also pose health and safety risks.
To help make doctor visits as safe and enjoyable as possible, Talk News asked etiquette experts to share the faux pas they’ve observed – and their advice for avoiding those missteps.
Doesn’t Respect Privacy
“While it’s easy to eavesdrop in the waiting room, everyone should listen selectively,” says Jodi RR Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. “Give the illusion of privacy, even if there is none.”
If you have to wait in line to talk to someone at a table, try to keep a reasonable distance.
“This ensures the person in front of you that you can’t see the personal information they’re providing,” says Jackie Vernon-Thompson, founder of From the Inside-Out School of Etiquette.
Don’t probe the reason for a fellow patient’s visit while making small talk.
“You may strike up a conversation with someone else, but again, maintain the illusion of privacy,” advises Smith. “Chat about the weather or television shows. Don’t ask why they are seeking medical help. If, and only if, they volunteer that information, then you can ask follow-up questions.”
Making Noise In The Waiting Room
Don’t talk loudly about yourself to strangers. People who are not feeling well may not want to hear a clear explanation of your problem, so lower the volume of your conversations with others so as not to be annoying.
“Don’t constantly babble about your health problems to other patients,” says Vernon-Thompson. “Sit quietly and focus on you until your name is called.”
The same applies to issues directed at staff members.
“Keep your voice down,” says Diane Gottsman, author of “Modern Etiquette for a Better Life” and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. “If you have a complaint, take it to the counter instead of complaining to fellow patients.”
Additionally, make use of your headphones if you want to listen to music or watch videos while you wait.
Talking on Your Phone
Noise rules also apply to telephone conversations.
“Cell phones should be silent,” says Nick Leighton, etiquette expert and host of “Were You Raised by Wolves?” podcast. “If you have to take a call, it’s best to leave the waiting room.”
Consider going into airplane mode before you enter a medical facility. At the very least, turn off the sound.
“Maybe other people don’t like your ringtone as much as you do,” says Tami Claytor, the etiquette coach behind Always Appropriate Image and Etiquette Consulting. “Additionally, by turning off or silencing your phone, it eliminates the possibility of a call or text interrupting your doctor’s appointment.”
Not Wearing a Mask
“In this day and age, if you have any sort of sneezing or coughing illness, you should wear a mask in any medical facility,” Smith said. “This is for your protection and to help protect anyone who may be medically vulnerable.”
If your medical appointment is time-limited and unrelated to your illness, reschedule it for a time when you are not sick. Otherwise, wear a mask before you check in. Some offices require masks for all patients.
“Help minimize the spread of germs by wearing a mask, coughing and sneezing into your elbow or leaving the waiting room, properly disposing of used tissues by throwing them in the trash and washing your hands frequently,” Claytor said. “By taking these steps, you are practicing a basic principle of etiquette, which is to think about others before you think about yourself.”
Eat While Waiting
“Don’t eat in the waiting room,” Claytor said. “The waiting room is not a fast food restaurant. It’s not appropriate to eat food while waiting.”
He notes that small snacks and drinks may be fine as long as they don’t have a strong odor and you consume them discreetly. Also make sure to dispose of the remains properly.
“Take your trash with you,” Leighton said. “Don’t leave your empty coffee cup lying around in the waiting room.”
Arrive Late – Or Not At All
“Arrive on time,” Claytor insisted. “Being on time is a good show of respect for other patients, staff and doctors.”
In fact, you should try to arrive earlier than your scheduled appointment time.
“Always arrive a few minutes early to fill out or update your patient profile,” says Gottsman, noting that medical visits often come in many forms.
Your punctuality helps doctors stay on time and reduces delays for other patients. And if you can’t make it that day, don’t forget to cancel or reschedule.
“No no-shows,” Claytor said. “Don’t tell the office if you can’t keep your promise. There may be a waiting list and someone else may use your time slot.”
Delays are common, but try to do your part to not make them worse. Behaving Unkindly Towards Staff
“You’ll catch more bees with honey than vinegar, so a polite approach with staff is always the way to go,” says Leighton.
Despite our best efforts, delays still occur, so try to be patient and don’t take out your frustrations on the person working the desk.
“Don’t shout at staff or argue with them,” says Vernon-Thompson. “Don’t make a fuss! If you have a complaint, there are protocols in place for that. In most cases, the problem you are experiencing is beyond their control or not their fault.”
Being friendly and polite goes a long way in a medical setting.
“After all, people usually visit a doctor when they are sick or concerned about their health,” says Vernon-Thompson. “Your positive and respectful attitude can make the environment more conducive to healing.”
“Respect personal space,” says Claytor. “For sanitation reasons and to avoid the spread of germs, it is important to follow social distancing guidelines.”
If there are lots of empty seats available, don’t choose a seat right next to someone. If it’s crowded, don’t occupy more than one seat.
“Be careful and don’t take up more than one waiting room chair,” says Claytor. “If you have done so and someone else needs the seat, remove your belongings and offer the now empty seat to that person.”
He warns against putting your feet on the chair.
“Your footwear is dirty and inappropriate for sitting on a waiting room chair,” Claytor said. “It’s impossible to know what nasty substances are on your shoes. Nobody wants dirt from the streets transferring to their clothes.”
It’s OK to bring a companion or counselor to your appointment, but avoid coming with a full group if possible.
“Too many people accompanying patients on office visits will be distracting to staff and others in poor health,” Claytor added.
Arrive Without Preparation
Avoid exceeding your allotted appointment time by preparing in advance. Show your insurance card and any necessary forms ready to go.
“A day or two before your appointment, take time to write down all your potential questions,” advises Smith. “It can be very tiring and sometimes rushed during the appointment. Writing down your questions first allows you to cover as many as possible during the allotted time.”
Come with a list of all medications and supplements you are taking as well.
“Help doctors get the most out of your visit by doing a little advanced preparation,” says Claytor. “Having a list of medications and supplements means they spend less time updating your medical chart and more time diagnosing problems that require an office visit.”
Being Dishonest “Be honest with your service providers,” says Gottsman. “If you see another medical professional, tell them so they know all the details.” Withholding relevant information will waste the healthcare provider’s time as well as your own. And try to be polite but honest if you’re not satisfied with what you got. “Remember, medical staff are trained professionals, but they are not perfect,” Smith said. “If you would like to see another provider or get a second option, ask politely.”Regarding…The Roughest Thing You Can Do On A Cruise ShipThe Rudeest Thing You Can Do While ShoppingThe Rudeest Thing You Can Do At A Holiday Party