Patient charges doctors for making her wait

The average time you spend waiting at the doctor's office is 24 minutes. Many times, that's longer than the appointment.

Now, some patients are fighting back.

Time is money, something Cherie Kerr, of Santa Ana, Calif., knows firsthand. Her hourly wage means time spent away from work is money lost, and nowhere was that happening more than when Kerr showed up for doctors' appointments.

Kerr told CBS News, "Over the years, I would find myself getting really mad, just sitting in a doctor's office with a magazine and waiting and waiting and waiting. And it just infuriated me. So, I finally decided I was going to just do something about it, and I did."

What she did is begin to bill her doctors for their tardiness, CBS' Maya Rodriguez reported. When Kerr's eye doctor was 45-minutes late for an appointment, she deducted $150 from her $223 bill and sent a letter back, explaining she wouldn't pay it in full. The doctor's office agreed.

"If they're going to start charging us now for being late for an appointment, which many of them do, I think we need to do the same thing to them," Kerr said. "I think it's only fair."

Dr. William Jessee, president of the Medical Group Management Association, said, "When a physician does fall behind schedule, it can be a variety of causes."

Jessee has been studying doctors' offices for over 30 years now, and according to him, physicians typically allow 15 minutes or less for each patient on their schedule.

"For a primary care physician, for example, a family doctor, a pediatrician, a general internist, they may see somewhere in the ballpark of 20 to 30 patients a day," he says. "But if they're seeing mostly minor illnesses, it may go up to 40 or 50 patients a day."

Dr. Cyrus Peikari, an internist in Dallas, figured out his own solution to the time crunch. He pays his patients $50 when he runs late.

Peikari said, "A lot of people say, 'My time is valuable.' And physicians will charge no-show fees, for example, for $50. But, I think, to be truly just and fair, you have to go both ways."

Peikari says before he established his own practice, he was forced to see as many as 50 patients in a seven-hour day.

Peikari: "That's very much the treadmill of factory medicine, where you're running, running, running all day, just trying to keep up, to see more and more and more patients."

So he opted for a change. At his medical practice, he now sees only 10 to 12 patients a day.

Patients say they appreciate Peikari's effort.

So is he usually punctual?

Gregory Louis-Charles, Peikari's patient, said, "He's always on time."

As for Cherie Kerr, her best piece of advice is to talk to schedulers about how the office runs, and choose wisely.

Kerr said, "I think you should go shopping for a doctor just like you shop for shoes. You want to get the right fit. You want to find somebody that's going to take good care of you, you can talk to easily, and who is going to honor and respect your time as much as you do theirs."

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