How Long Would You Wait at a Physical Therapy Appointment

Updated on April 25, 2013
D.D. asks from Goodyear, AZ
14 answers

I have been going to PT for the last 6 weeks. The original guy I had to wait 30 min to be taken back, then he kept walking in and out of the room every 10 to 15 minutes before he did anything. He made me miss my 2nd appointment with the message therapist.

They had me switch to another therapist. I usually wait 5 min with this one therapist before she took me back. Her last day was last Friday. Today I went in 10 min passed, the people in waiting area went back I was left alone. New people came in waiting area and the guy I had an appointment with took her back, then a new guy came in said he had an appointment with this same therapist. I finally went up to the front desk and said that 30 minutes is long enough to wait, crossed my name and time I checked in off, and put the time I left.

I understand that physical therapists are busy, and take a lot of clients to help make ends meet with changing of medical plans. Every patient makes every attempt to be to an appointment on time, shouldn't the PT people do the same??

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answers from San Francisco on

Absolutely and nothing makes me madder than having to wait like that when I have an appointment! That's why I make an appointment and don't just drop in. I understand if it's a doctor who has an emergency or a patient with an unexpected problem or even a lawyer who is stuck in court. But a PT who is in the office all day - there is no excuse other than they have no respect for YOUR time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Why did you not ask why the other people were being taken ahead of you.
I have a chronic illness. Early on I waited long long times to see my doc. He always took time with e eryone. That was what I liked. I was never rushed. When I had to have a bone marrow biopsy, he stayed with me. i made him an hour late to his office hours. He knew how scared I was and he knew how critically ill I was. I will never forget that. You have no idea what it meant to me for him to be there, I was glad I never complained because maybe he was there for someone else. Just saying. Sometimes there are circumstances you are not aware of.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Ugh. That is really unacceptable.

I once waited in the waiting room for my OB for about an hour then was taken back to wait in the room for a long time. I finally laid back on the table and closed my eyes. He comes bouncing in all cheery, followed by a nurse.
He says, well, I wish I could lay back and get some rest!
To which I said, drily, make a doctor's appt.
They both fell over laughing.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


Sorry - I don't wait more than 15 minutes - for ANY appointment.

When my oldest son was younger (like 1 year), I had to wait a while for an appointment. I was pissed. I told the doctor and the staff up front that I made $25 per hour and that I would be charging them for my 15 minute increments for waiting. They said "it doesn't work that way" - to which I said - "you will NOT make me wait. My time is JUST as important and valuable as yours. You can GIVE me a choice to wait. If I CHOOSE to wait - fine. If not. Your bad."

I charged them. They have NEVER made me wait again. EVER. When the doctor is running behind? They come to the room and tell me - it is something they have remembered.

I would find another PT. Really. I do understand how busy they are. I get it. However, if this is typical - waiting - then he doesn't have good time management or a good scheduler.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

find a new facility. We spent about 10 years working with P.T. depts with our son. Rarely did we have to wait more than 10 minutes. This was with 2 different facilities & about 4 therapists thru the years.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

You were right to leave. I don't care what kind of appointment it is. If they're behind schedule, they need to tell you upfront. I've walked out of our dentist's office before after waiting 30 minutes with no sign I was next. I told the front desk to call me about rescheduling later. I needed to get back to work. I hadn't budgeted a morning to be at the appt., just a standard appt. time.

Very irritating! It's rude to keep doing this to you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

I would honestly find a new PT office. Being consistently late like that time after time after time sounds like they're overbooking or short staffed or running overtime on appointments or are dragging appointments out because they're not doing what they should be doing during appointments. What the PT is doing ie. running late chronically and leaving you repeatedly during the appointment is not normal or professional.

I would insist on either another PT or find a new office because I wouldn't wait longer than 15 or 20 minutes. I don't mind 15-20 minutes even if it's chronic because that's normal. If I'm running late, I even hope they're running a few minutes behind, but I also will call them ahead of time to see if the doctor or whomever I have the appointment with is running on time or behind.

Also, don't take it for granted that someone else may have complained already or that the office manager is aware of the chronic problem and the fact that this particular PT even made you miss an appointment. I would file a complaint in writing.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My daughter goes and we never wait more than 2 minutes for her therapist to come grab her. She does work with normally 1 other person during the time she is with my daughter, but they are great about getting people back on time.

Since I have to wait with my two sons (6 and 8) I am thankful they don't make us wait anymore than the hour the appointment already takes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fresno on

I work in a PT clinic and our patients never wait more than about 5 minutes. Occasionally you may wait a little longer maybe up to 15 min but that is only if something out of the ordinary is gong on. For example we get an important call from a case manager or physician that holds us up. We serve a wide variety of patients with all types of insurance including the uninsured and we run on time. I'd find another PT.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Yup, 30 minutes is my expiration time, too! I walked out of my OB's a few times. I told them that I absolutely understood emergencies, but I did not have the time to sit around for hours on end for a five minute check up. It is basic professionalism to keep to your schedule. I will give them 30 minutes, max, to account for people being late, things popping up, etc, but that is my limit. Next time, I would ask the receptionist for a copy of the sign-in/out sheet, on the off chance that they have the nerve to bill your insurance company for your "missed" appointment.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

My doctor's office has a sign up that says if you haven't been called up within 10 minutes, talk to the desk staff! I get that they're busy - but how do they expect you to pay for it if you can't work??
I say it's time to call the office manager and tell them your experience. Ask questions - is it always that busy, are you just hitting peak times, etc? I'd give them one chance after talking to the manager - then find another PT office. Oh, and review on every website available online. You may save someone else the grief you experienced.



answers from Missoula on

I have never been to a pt, but I have worked in an eye dr office and I know from experience that doctors overbook for a reason. So many times people just don't show up for appointments so doctors overbook to make sure they have a full schedule. The problem happens when everyone actually shows up.

As for thinking they can bill your insurance for a missed appointment, that is just not true. It's hard enough to get insurance companies to pay for legitimate expenses, they for sure will not pay for appointments that never happened. Doctors are allowed to bill the patient for missed appointments, but usually what happens when they try is that a patient does not pay and decide to take their business elsewhere. I realize that the doctor I worked for was in a large metropolitan area and patients had many other options to choose from so that may not be the case in more rural areas.

I agree that it is frustrating for patients when the doctor runs behind schedule, but it's also frustrating for the staff who have to deal with it all the time, so try not to take out your frustrations on them.



answers from Chicago on

Hubby and i joke that we are going to start charging people in the medical establishment for the time they make us wait. My son had a Dr that always makes us wait 45 minutes. Why he thinks OUR TIME is less important than his is beyond me....

When we finally decide to throw out health insurance companies and do the negotiating ourselves with medical professionals, I have no doubt they will be more respectful of our time.



answers from Houston on

I had PT a couple of years ago after my back surgery. I did aquatic therapy. I had the therapist for one hour one on one. It was great. I think the most I had to wait was 15 minutes.

I would find a new PT facility.

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