Outpatient Clinic: Where Is the Delay?

J R Soc Med. 2002 Dec;95(12):604-5. doi: 10.1258/jrsm.95.12.604.


In outpatient clinics, consultation times are often eroded by extraneous activities. We measured the components of each outpatient episode in 167 patients attending a general urology follow-up clinic. 41% of time in the clinic was spent away from the patient-administration 17%, disturbances 15%, finding results 9%. The inefficiencies had changed little since a study in the same setting thirteen years earlier. Since then, parallel nurse-practitioner-run clinics have been introduced in the hope of giving consultants longer with the patient; however, time with each patient is now 4.8 min compared with a previous 7.6 min. The most easily addressed inefficiencies are those relating to missing information, such as radiology reports.

MeSH terms

  • Consultants
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Female
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • State Medicine / organization & administration
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Management*
  • Urology Department, Hospital / organization & administration*