TV channel in physician's waiting room

I am looking for opinions/views on this subject. While I don’t think it is a big deal, it has become one. I work for a group of allergist, and we see children as well as adults. Many patients that are on allergy injections are in the office weekly, and will be in the waiting room for 30+ minutes. We has a television up on the wall in a corner near the ceiling. Currently, it is set to CNN, muted, with closed caption on.

About a month ago, a woman asked that I change the station as she didn’t want to see CNN. As there was only a couple of other patients, I changed the channel to HGTV. Today the same patient told the clinic manager that she would be leaving the practice if we continued to show CNN. She stated that in today’s times, she should not be subjected to that, and other places she goes do not show news.

Now I understand if she doesn’t want to watch, and due to the placement of the tv, she can avoid seeing the tv, which again, is muted. I would say a large majority of our patient play on their phones and tablets, a smaller number read a book, newpaper or magazine, and a very small number actually look at the tv unless something interest them. One staff member said we shouldn’t cater to her, as no channel is one size fits all. I am sure the kids would like cartoons, but some parents would find some violent or inappropriate. I am sure there are people that don’t like HGTV. We are not going to be able to please everyone, and once the tv goes on in the morning, it will stay on that channel until closing.

If any of your physician’s have cable, what is showing? Are you offended by what is shown or what would upset you if it were shown? What network show do you think is neutral and MIGHT not offend anyone?

I spent an hour in a waiting room last week while my H had a colonoscopy. The TV was basically an infomercial for having a colonoscopy and an interview with the GI doc. It seemed like it was on a loop.

My old GP had something similar with the TV showing programming sharing wellness tips and promoting the hospital system.

My ortho guy had the TV on ESPN.

Would I personally be upset about what was being shown in a waiting room? Absolutely not. If it wasn’t my cup of tea, I would ignore it.

Since you’ve had complaints though and if the staff don’t care, I think HGTV or Food Network type channels are safe bets.


I suppose that the patient didn’t like CNN because she feels it’s anti-Trump. I personally resent a TV in the waiting room that is set to an endless loop of commercials/infomercials/health messages. I’m not too keen on CNN either, because of its history of continuous, sensationalist over-coverage of whatever it has deemed the most lurid story of the day/week/month. I don’t like how she’s behaving, but you certainly don’t want to alienate any patients, so I think that you’d be better off having the TV set to some home renovation channel, on mute, perhaps with subtitles on.


I personally don’t care what is on the tv. I had to watch way too many clips about men’s urological issues when I had my kidney stone odyssey … and I survived.


I think whatever patients are subjected to should be as neutral or benign as possible. I recently went to a well rated endodontist, and was subjected to Christian music blaring the whole time with the dental assistant and endodontist both humming and singing along through my multiple hour appointments. As an agnostic who grew up in the Bible belt, I didn’t appreciate that at all. The experience was painful, expensive, and the music was extremely annoying. So while I wouldn’t have minded watching CNN, I can understand why some wouldn’t have liked it.


My dentist has classic tv on in waiting room and operatories. Munsters, Addams Family, etc. Was in emergency room with my dad a few months ago and they had the same thing. Gilligans Island, Mash, etc.


I despise TVs in waiting rooms. We intentionally avoided them when we opened our practice. I know it’s modern medicine, but needing TVs is a symptom of bigger things that make patients wait far too long. No one wants to address the elephant in the room, but people wait too long when we see too many patients.


I highly recommend CNBC. :slight_smile: My mammo clinic used to showed Planet Earth DVDs.

The patient may just not have wanted to see any news, no matter the station - it certainly can be a stressor, whether or not the channel is politically aligned with the viewer. I don’t much look at the tv’s; some offices are playing medical info or ads. I always appreciate a nice aquarium!

I can’t imagine CNN would be entertaining for the children, although they likely are on their own devices.

This is an interesting article on the subject. Their conclusion:

That’s why cable channels such as Animal Planet, National Geographic and, especially, HGTV have become the go-tos for most waiting rooms.

Cooking, food, and travel channels are also hopefully not controversial.


I don’t see the point of TVs since people can look at any video they want on their phone.

Aren’t we supposed to have our phones off in doctor’s offices?

Usually I see cooking or home renovation shows on in the waiting room.

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I would not go to a doctor’s office that had a tv on in the waiting room, with or without sound. I am more than capable of entertaining myself while waiting. I think having a tv in the waiting room, especially when some else chooses what I and the rest of the people waiting have to watch, is insulting. So far I’ve been able to find doctor’s offices that don’t stoop to having tvs in the waiting rooms.

My doctors’ offices post their guest WiFi passwords!


I realize that I’m not answering your question but I don’t understand why you need to have a TV on at all. You say that most of the patients ignore it. Maybe just leave it off? None of the doctors offices I go to have TVs.


For a while whenever I went to my doctor’s office for physicals or follow-ups it was late afternoon (at the end of a teaching day) and the TV always seemed to be on Family Feud. That show has apparently degenerated into a series of racy questions and double entendres responses. Kind of awkward, sitting there with grandmotherly types!!!

I hate CNN, but it is the channel I would prefer if there was a TV in the waiting room (on mute). I can filter out the garbage and get the relevant news that I want. Anyone that can’t, or that can’t just ignore it is a sad soul. Like your co-worker, I wouldn’t cater to that patient.

The thing about the neutral channels like HGTV is that they really need to be off mute. And that can make the TV an annoyance.


I don’t care what’s on TV when I go places and most places have something. My least favorite are the infomercials or sports. My most favorite are family friendly comedies or travel shows. The only time I sometimes want to catch the news is at a hotel eating breakfast if I care to keep up with what’s going on in the world.

But even when I go places and don’t care to watch what’s on, I can’t imagine it driving me off from someplace I like TBH.

The TV in the orthopedic surgeon’s office we went to when my daughter needed surgery was set to food network. This was surprising to me, as I had been used to seeing most tvs set to some sort of news channel in waiting rooms.

When I pleasantly remarked on the choice of food network as the channel, the receptionist told me that there had been several altercations in the waiting room when it had been set to news, so they made the decision to switch to another, less fraught channel. Made a lot of sense to me.

Why not just switch to HGTV or Food network? Seems like an easy fix for the patient who wants an accommodation.


Agree with others. I think politically inclined programming like CNN or Foxnews don’t belong to the medical office. It should be something like food network or HGTV.or cartoon channels in pediatrics offices. One of the offices I took my mom recently had relaxation videos on with sound