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How long is it reasonable to wait to get an appointment after a referral?


Dmmetler
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I had an ultrasound of my thyroid done awhile back. A week afterwards, the doctor's office contacted me that it was abnormal and that they had sent a referral to a specialist, and I should hear from that office within 4 days or so. I called the referral office after hearing nothing on Friday, and was told the referral was in, but that it often takes "a while to get in".

 

We're now going on three weeks from the initial appointment. I've heard nothing from the specialists office whatsoever. I can believe that it might take weeks to get an appointment, but weeks to even schedule one?  Is this at all normal?

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I don't think so.  I would contact them again and try to schedule an appointment.  Is it possible they are waiting for authorization from your insurance company, before they schedule the appointment?

 

Years ago, when we had much better medical insurance, I sometimes waited a month or 2, for an appointment with one or 2 of our M.D. Specialists, but those were for routine appointments, not something that I considered to be urgent or an emergency.

 

If you are concerned, which you probably are and should be, because you were told the ultrasound was abnormal, I would call the office of the specialist again and ask them why they are waiting to schedule your appointment and approximately when you should expect them to call you.

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I would  call again.  It is normal to have to wait a while for an appointment, but not for scheduling the appointment IME.  The only time I had to wait for scheduling was for an autism evaluation for my child.  I was told up front that I was put on a list and they would call a month or so before my child was ready to be scheduled, but these are appointments that are sometimes a year or more out.  Anything like GI, Urology, etc. I would get the appointment within a few days, even if the wait for the actual appointment was months.

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I live in a low population area with a scarcity of medical doctors. Even here, I would be expected to be contacted within a week or so to make the Initial appointment.

Now, the actual date of the appointment is a different issue. 3-6 month wait is not unusual here. In early June my DS got an appointment for allergy testing that will be on oct 30. My DH had to wait 5 mos for his colonoscopy.

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I've had it take up to a month to get the CALL from the referred provider and another six weeks to have the actual appointment. In fact with speech therapy I think it was something like a ten weeks because of the waitlist.

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I had an ultrasound of my thyroid done awhile back. A week afterwards, the doctor's office contacted me that it was abnormal and that they had sent a referral to a specialist, and I should hear from that office within 4 days or so. I called the referral office after hearing nothing on Friday, and was told the referral was in, but that it often takes "a while to get in".

 

We're now going on three weeks from the initial appointment. I've heard nothing from the specialists office whatsoever. I can believe that it might take weeks to get an appointment, but weeks to even schedule one?  Is this at all normal?

 

are you in the US? is the specialist in a city/metro area?

 

at this point, I would call your dr and let them know you haven't heard from the dr to whom he referred you, and calling yourself hasn't accomplished anything either.

 

eta: the only time i had to wait to even be able to schedule, was for my son's autism eval - and I was told it would be at least two months before he even got on the schedule.

for other specialists - for myself and kids, I was able to get the appointment scheduled - even if I had to wait a couple months to get in.

Edited by gardenmom5
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Sometimes the specialist has to review the referral paperwork/test results before deciding whether or not to accept the patient. I've had that happen before and it can indeed take a while.

 

However, the receptionist should've told you that was the SOP if indeed that's what the holdup is.

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I was told recently I'd have up to a six month wait after a referral. I called after a few weeks just to make sure they received the referral and to see if they needed anything else from me. At that point they said the wait may be 2-3 months instead of 6. Then they called the next week with openings. I don't know that calling to check on the referral helped, but it didn't hurt. Of course, I was willing to accept that the wait would be months-long. 

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I would call again and say your physician sent a referral and you need to schedule the appointment. Sometimes things fall through the cracks. If that doesn't get you on the schedule, maybe call your doctor back and explain what happened. Sometimes things move faster if the doctor's office gets it scheduled for you.

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I had that problem with a mammogram.  The schedulers told me to call early in the mornings and in the late afternoons to see if I could get in on a cancellation.  I got in after 3 days, but it was still a far off appointment so I kept calling and got it moved up several weeks.

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Apparently it typically takes 2-3 weeks for this office to review records. Since this guy specializes in thyroid cancer, it would be kind of reassuring for him to look at the ultrasound and decide someone else can manage it. But it is definitely nervewracking to have to wait to even get an appointment.

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Apparently it typically takes 2-3 weeks for this office to review records. Since this guy specializes in thyroid cancer, it would be kind of reassuring for him to look at the ultrasound and decide someone else can manage it. But it is definitely nervewracking to have to wait to even get an appointment.

 

I can only imagine. It would be nice if they could keep the patients peace of mind in mind. Cancer is one of those things we want to jump on right away if that's the diagnosis. (Hoping it's not!).

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Apparently it typically takes 2-3 weeks for this office to review records. Since this guy specializes in thyroid cancer, it would be kind of reassuring for him to look at the ultrasound and decide someone else can manage it. But it is definitely nervewracking to have to wait to even get an appointment.

 

I'm sorry this has happened to you.  I haven't had that kind of experience but I'm thinking that it might depend on insurance?  My insurance doesn't require me to have a referral to go to a specialist so if my primary recommends a specialist I just call and get an appointment with no problem.  The only time I've had to wait is when I'm having a procedure and the insurance company has to authorize it first.  And even then I think I could insist on having the procedure anyway if I was willing to pay for it if the insurance company denied it.  I always get the procedure authorization by the end of the day though so it's been really fast and not an issue.  I'm assuming this post means that you've called again and have been told that they haven't reviewed the records yet? 

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