Outpatient clinic nonarrivals and cancellations

J D Dockerty
New Zealand Medical Journal 1992 April 22, 105 (932): 147-9

OBJECTIVES: outpatient clinics account for much of the work and expenditure in public hospitals. Many hospitals are trying to improve clinic efficiency. This research was conducted to assess the extent and characteristics of outpatient nonarrivals and cancellations at Dunedin Hospital, and to make suggestions for improvements.

METHODS: data on 37,271 appointments scheduled during six months of 1990 were obtained. Nonarrivals and cancellations were examined in relation to characteristics of the patient, clinic and appointment.

RESULTS: a large proportion (21.2%) of the appointments were not completed, comprising 8.3% nonarrivals, 7.5% patient cancellations, and 5.4% clinic cancellations or reschedulings. Nonarrivals were related to characteristics of the patient; including age, sex, ethnic group, and marital status. The proportions of nonarrivals and cancellations varied among different clinics. For new appointments, longer waiting times from referral were related to nonarrivals and patient cancellations.

CONCLUSIONS: outpatient nonarrivals and cancellations pose a large problem at Dunedin Hospital. They could be reduced if some clinics provided more information for patients, arranged better cover for consultant absences, minimised clerical errors, decreased waiting times for new referrals, and used patient reminders.

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