Top Patient Gripes: Bill Disputes, Long Waits, ‘Unclear’ Docs

Thursday, 25 Apr 2013 05:17 PM

By Nick Tate

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Billing disputes. Long waits in exam rooms. Doctors who provide unclear explanations of health problems. These are among the top gripes patients have about their doctors, according to a new Consumer Reports survey.

In a nationally representative poll, Consumer Reports asked 1,000 Americans to rate 16 complaints that might irk them on a scale of 1-to-10, with 1 being the least bothersome.
 
Consumer Reports’ Gripe-o-Meter found women were much more bothered than men about private discussions taking place within earshot of other patients, rushed office visits, too-early release of hospital patients, and inconvenient office hours. 

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They were also more likely than men to be bugged if a doctor took notes on an electronic device instead of interacting face to face. 
 
Among the other findings:
  • The top complaint —  “unclear explanation of a problem” — scored an 8.1.
  • “Test results not communicated fast” scored nearly as high with a 7.9.
  • Complaints that bothered Americans almost as much the top two included billing disputes, difficulty getting an appointment when sick, and feeling rushed during an office visit.  All three of those gripes were tied for third place with a 7.8 on the scale.
  • Complaints about long waits for doctors in the exam or waiting room scored a 7.6.
  • Americans 65 and older were more peeved about having to fill out long forms than younger patients.
  • Americans from Western states were much more bothered than other respondents by the discouragement of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, and chiropractic treatments, and by doctors who rushed through visits. 

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