Why Patients Don’t Show Up for Surgery

Cynthia Kahlenberg, BA; Robert J. Wetzel, MD; and Sara L. Edwards, MD

In the current era of high healthcare spending, physicians must develop a heightened sense of financial awareness. Hospital systems, in response to external pressures, are constantly reevaluating their resource utilization and seeking ways to improve efficiency. In particular, the surgical setting is one area in which it is especially important to monitor costs and expenditures because wasted time can add up to thousands of wasted dollars.

At our institution’s outpatient surgery facility, patients often cancel or reschedule their surgical appointments. This can be managed and schedules can be adjusted accordingly when proper notification is received. However, a significant waste of resources occurs when patients do not show up for their scheduled procedure without any notification to the facility, surgeon, or office staff. These “no-show” patients can greatly disrupt the workflow and efficiency of any system.

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