Waiting time at the doctor

20, 30 or 40 minutes: The fact that you have to wait for the doctor despite an appointment is in many German medical practices the rule. Not infrequently, patients even have to accept relatively long waiting times. But why is that? And what waiting time is still reasonable for a patient? We inform you extensively around the mostly annoying topic "waiting time with the doctor".

Longer waiting times are normal

If you go to the doctor in Germany, you should bring your own time: waiting times between 15 and 30 minutes are not uncommon even on agreed appointments. Such waiting times, however, are considered justifiable. If you have to wait longer than 30 minutes despite appointments, you should inform a medical assistant about the reason for the delay.

No doctor can plan every single treatment down to the minute. You should therefore expect waiting periods of roughly 20 minutes from the outset for each visit to a doctor. For practices with an open consultation - so without appointment - you have to adjust to longer waiting times.

If a doctor's office is well organized, the waiting times are usually relatively short. But here too there may be bottlenecks from time to time. You should understand that, because delays are often caused by emergencies.

Who has to wait for an appointment?

In the case of life-threatening emergencies, these must be treated immediately by the doctor without appointment. If he can not perform the treatment himself, he must provide a replacement. For acute cases that are not life-threatening, but still need to be treated promptly, the doctor should find time on the same day. However, patients should be prepared for waiting here.

For treatments that are necessary but deferrable, appointments are made in advance. Such treatments include, for example, mild back or knee pain. As a rule, it should be possible to get an appointment within a few days or weeks. If it is not possible to make an appointment with a specialist within a reasonable time, you can contact your health insurance company.

Useful waiting time

Before each appointment, you should prepare for a short or medium waiting time. To make better use of the waiting time, you can, for example, take along a book or a magazine. If a long waiting period is foreseeable from the beginning, you can also agree with the practice staff that you will be doing some errands in the meantime.

If you go to the doctor with small children, it is best to have something to eat and drink for the child. Many medical practices today offer toys for children - but in case you should still have the child's favorite toy with you.

Spare trouble

Often the annoyance associated with prolonged waiting times at the doctor is not just due to the waiting time itself. The circumstances also often play a role. To avoid annoyance, you should therefore follow the following advice:

  • If you have an important appointment afterwards, it is best to point it out to the physician at the beginning. So you will not be under time pressure later.
  • If you suffer from severe pain, you should also address this at the beginning. Nevertheless, if you wait a long time, you should point this out again.

If it happens more often that your doctor lets you stew longer in the waiting room, you should think about changing the doctor. If you wait more often for hours, you can also report the case to your health insurance company.


For very long waiting times, patients can sue for damages - but the procedure is quite complicated. A one-time long waiting time is not enough for a claim for damages. Rather, the patient has to prove that in the affected practice, a bad organization often leads to very long waiting times. He must also explain that he has suffered a proven damage due to the long wait.

Doctors can also sue your patients for damages if they do not appear on time or if they are not canceled on time. However, a claim can only be made in situations in which the doctor can not favor any other patient and thereby cause harm. This is the case, for example, with psychotherapists who schedule half an hour or three quarters of an hour for each patient or with a longer period of treatment at the dentist.

Final Tip: If possible, get an appointment right at the beginning of the day. This reduces the risk of having to wait.

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