Chronically late patients... - page 2

by tlackey 7,978 Views | 32 Comments

How do you all handle late patients? I work in a peds clinic where there are a fair amount of chronically late patients, not 5 minutes late, but more like 15-20 minutes late. They never apologize, or acknowledge that they are... Read More


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    Until your office adopts a reschedule and no show fee policy, you will encounter people who will take advantage of your lenient approach. They care nothing about who is inconvenienced by their thoughtlessness. Hit them with a $50 no show fee and they might change.
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    I'll admit. I am a chronically late person. And it doesn't bother me when patients are late. People walk in unscheduled with a glucometer problem, or weird issues they can't figure out, and if they need to see me for their chronic issues, they know they might have to wait. Or they say, I'm going to bring in this paperwork tomorrow. They can't give a time. Our patient population is just disorganized.

    When I have an appointment, I bring a book. I've waited more than two hours to see a doc, this is pretty regular. I waited three hours once- that was excessive.

    But, for the most part, I'm pretty casual about time, and this goes both ways.
    Miss Lizzie and sharpeimom like this.
  3. 4
    Frustration over tardiness goes both ways. I refuse to deal with docs who charge no-show fees or who refuse to see patients who arrive late. If I arrive on-time for my appointment, I'll have to wait at least an hour before I'm seen. If I call ahead, the secretary won't tell me anything (when did clinic wait times become a national security issue?). If an 11:00 appointment means I'll be seen at 12:30, why shouldn't I just come in at 12:30?
    tewdles, TheCommuter, Miss Lizzie, and 1 other like this.
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    Whats so hard with saying with a smile, "Hey there, i see you're running late! Your appointment time was at x oclock! You know, I want to be able to provide you with the best care that I can, so next time try to come at your appointment time so we don't have to feel rushed, because there are people coming right after you", and then pat them on the back and guide them to where they have to be. I do this all the time and have no problem with latecomers anymore.
  5. 1
    As a front office receptionist of 4 years, some of the comments here are like nails on a chalk board to my ears! LOL!


    A few misconceptions to clear up:

    The doctor is usually late, so i should be too. With the exception of a physician new to practice who does not have their time management skills yet, the reason for them being late is probably not under their control. Urgent and late pts make the rest of the pts late. If you use this logic you are part of the problem, not the solution.

    The Front office should be able to tell me how late the doctor is running when I call ahead of time.
    You can see the look foreboding come across my face when pts ask this over the phone. Why? Because if i admit that we are late, they will come in late. Nine times out of ten, we are caught up by the time their appointment comes around and they are no where to be found, making us behind again. They come in 20 minutes late claiming that we told them it was ok. If i tell them we are on time, and something urgent comes up or a pt ahead of them comes in late and makes us late, they will throw a tantrum. I have seen adults kick the wall and scream because, "I lied to them." That is why I made it a personal policy not to answer that question. It always ends poorly. "I do not anticipate the dr to be running behind for your appointment, we encourage you to arrive at your scheduled time of 0000.", is all you are going to get out of me.
    amoLucia likes this.
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    Quote from grownuprosie
    Because if i admit that we are late, they will come in late. Nine times out of ten, we are caught up by the time their appointment comes around and they are no where to be found, making us behind again. They come in 20 minutes late claiming that we told them it was ok....
    So true! I never tell people about the grace period, and chronic latecomers I give a fake earlier time to, as one poster mentioned in this thread (and yes, my mom does that to me too!)

    For our clientele, I'd prefer to do away with specific appointment times whatsoever, but that would be a whole 'nother thread.
    grownuprosie likes this.
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    Quote from grownuprosie
    The doctor is usually late, so i should be too. With the exception of a physician new to practice who does not have their time management skills yet, the reason for them being late is probably not under their control. Urgent and late pts make the rest of the pts late. If you use this logic you are part of the problem, not the solution.
    Well it's not my fault that traffic was bad. But you expect me to plan a bit more time for the drive. Just in case right?
    Well that's what the office needs to do. Plan a bit more time for the urgent and late patients. Just in case. If you aren't doing that. YOU are the problem. (the system at the office, not this poster in particular)
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    There should be a late policy, but then again, if they have to wait when they show up on time... I see both sides.


    I'd make them wait an irritating amount of time one day, then go in and say, oh, sorry I'm running a little behind, we both know how rude it is to be late, I apologize...maybe they'll get the picture.
    Last edit by JZ_RN on Jun 6, '12
    grownuprosie likes this.
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    I can't stand being late as it seems disrespectful. I'm almost always early. Except for doctor's appointments. They always make me wait in the lobby and then when I've found an article in an old magazine that's kinda interesting they move me to a room where I wait. I feel that's part of the proccess and they are dealing with all sorts of things. However, it doesn't motivate me to show up early and I show up on time purely out of habit.

    If people are late why can't you just send someone else in out of order? Motivate people to be early/on time. My accupuncturist always gets me in early when I'm early or I can have a cup of their expensive tea while I'm waiting.
    wooh likes this.
  10. 1
    I dealt with a lot of this when I worked in a Family Practice Clinic. Here is how I ran my ship: Appt times were every 15 minutes with a 5 minute grace period. For instance, if the 0900 pt didn't show up until 0907, they could either reschedule or wait to be seen during a break (but no guarantee when that will be). Some people didn't care, and would wait because it got them out of work for several hours. Others would get irritated, saying that they waste time waiting for the doc. Most finally understood why the doc is running late when I would lay it out for them. Show them that if they are 7 minutes late, that puts the doc 7 minutes behind. The next late person might add on another 8 minutes, so now the doc is running 15 minutes behind. It all adds up. Also some pts make an appt for something little, like refill of allergy meds, but then bring up on the way out the door "oh, hey, doc, sometimes I get chest pain. Is that OK?" which creates a whole mess of testing, checking, etc that eats up more time. Rarely is it entirely the doc's fault for running behind - it is patients who don't see the whole picture of how a clinic runs.
    JZ_RN likes this.


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