The average waiting times for doctor appointments in four medical specialties exceeds one month in many markets and can stretch to as high as 50 days, according to a new national survey of more than 1,000 physicians in 15 major metropolitan areas. In Boston, where patients are experiencing some of the longest delays in seeing a doctor, it took 45 days for an appointment with an obstetrician-gynecologist and 50 days for a dermatologist, according to the survey by Merritt, Hawkins & Associates, a national physician search firm based in Irving, Texas. While average wait times vary widely among specialties and metropolitan areas, the numbers underscore concerns that these sometimes lengthy delays may be forcing many patients to seek more immediate care at hospital emergency rooms, which has a cascading impact on costs for the entire healthcare system. The survey was based on telephone inquiries between February and April of physicians specializing in cardiology, obstetrics-gynecology, orthopedic surgery and dermatology. Average wait times ranged from eight days to see an orthopedic surgeon in Washington to 50 days for a dermatologist in Boston. -- by Michael Romano
Survey shows long waits for specialists
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