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Sep 21

No Show Equals No Respect

When a patient repeatedly cancels or no shows, what’s your policy? While that may sound like an easy question to some of you, in many offices we get pitiful looks from the front desk staff when a patient……who has repeatedly missed appointments…..insists on another 4PM or Saturday appointment. The pitiful look is because the office has no real policy regarding these instances, and they have many other patients wanting those prime time appointments. We’re completely aware that we never want to upset our patients because we don’t want them to leave the practice or badmouth the practice. We do however, in all aspects of our life, need to set boundaries. These boundaries in an office not only keep your schedule running properly, but also show your staff you respect them as much as you do your patients. Because we know how much doctors dislike setting these boundaries and making these policies, we’ll suggest some….and you can blame the evil consultants.

If a normally good patient misses a prime appointment, we can overlook the first infraction with no need for a warning.

If a new patient does the same, we can reschedule with a gentle warning that we do have a policy in place, so let’s be sure this appointment fits well with their schedule, as we cannot give them a third prime appointment if they miss this second chance.

If a patient of record is a repeat offender….in our minds that’s two no shows or last minute cancellations of prime time appointments….it’s time for a gentle warning that we need to be sure this is a good time for them because, as a matter of office policy, we will only be able to put them on a call list for a prime time appointment. We can even present this as a plus…we’ll call them the day of the available appointment so they’ll be sure to know if they can make it.

The same verbiage applies to a patient who consistently misses any appointments, not just prime time ones. We can put them on a call list ONLY and give them a call when we need to fill a slot.

Another boundary we need to set is regarding a family with multiple children. Our office policy will allow for only two children in a family to be scheduled together. If we feel strongly that we need to bend this rule because of many big families in our area, we give them one opportunity to schedule all the children together. If they miss this appointment, we go back to our policy with a gentle apology explaining we need this policy because of the amount of time lost when they miss these family appointments.

Obviously, our desk staff has permission to overlook infraction when there are mitigating circumstances such as family illness. They will use that permission when needed, but will now be able to be firm with patients who show no respect for them, the doctor or the practice.


As dental practice management consultants, Mosaic Management Professionals, Inc. teachs you what the numbers mean for your success; shows you the opportunities that exist in your practice and helps you become someone who can attain the dream of personal and professional satisfaction. Let us help you handle the day to day and month to month details of your practice while we provide the training and support that will put all the pieces together into a beautifully aligned “Mosaic” that depicts your practice. Our initial consultation is always complementary and we maintain flexible hours to suit the needs of our clients.

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