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Margaret McCartney: Why GPs are always running late

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 29 August 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3955
  1. Margaret McCartney, general practitioner
  1. Glasgow
  1. margaret{at}

An intelligent, kind friend says to me, “My GP is always running late—why?”

I try to explain that her GP is probably similar to me. Even arriving early and staying late, I still only have about 12 minutes for each patient. And I have to fit a lot into those 12 minutes.

I must go to the waiting room to locate and invite the patient into a private room. I must introduce myself and find out why the patient’s here. There’s probably more than one reason.

Then, history taking: sometimes complicated, sometimes not. Examination, if needed. Assistance may be required. Clothing may need to be removed. …

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