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Late Pts. how late is late?

Situation:
45-1h appointment scheduling per both prophy or SRP in office. (mostly 45min)

Pt #2 calls office to notify about late arrival.(10-15mins late)
already 5 mins behind with Pt#1 in chair because this pt was a little late also.
Receptionist tells me to accept Pt#2 because she is a PPO pt and we dont want to lose her.
Pt #3 walked out because I’m behind.
Overall, it was a domino effect.

DILEMMA. what do you do in times like this?
Is it my fault? What seems to be the problem? I dont want to rush and not do a quality job.



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5 Answers

Happened to me today..I try and have the receptionist communicate for me to my other patients that I am behind and will be with them shortly. Some get upset, I don’t have an overflow room (let me tell you that would be nice!!) so for recalls I have to wait for the dentist (usually takes awhile), anyway, they get upset, myself or the receptionist will let them know they can stay and wait or reschedule. I always try an communicate and let my patients know what is going on. Not your fault, these people came late. You can’t control when people show up to their appointments, believe me!! Let them know next time to please be on time. I want to do my best for the patient that is in front of me. Things happen and people will get upset. If one of my patients does end up rescheduling, I use that time to catch up and not be so behind for the rest of the day.

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Always see the patient. You only do what time allows….maybe an exam, perio chart, cancer screening and radiographs. Then pt can be rescheduled for their Prophy/Perio maintenance appt and be told they must be on time from this point forward. This way you aren’t completely out on the production for the day.

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In my office if a patient shows us 15 mins late we will reschedule them. My office manager is really good about explaining to them that we reserved an hour for them. If the patient shows up 10 mins late a lot of the time I will complete my work (prophy, radiographs, ect,) and then I will place them in my over flow room for their exam with Dr. The assistants will then take them from there so I can stay on schedule. This seems to work well. The other day my patient was 20 mins late but I went ahead and completed their cleaning but had the assistant take over after. I usually communicate this with the assistants ahead of taking my patient back so they can be prepared to take over.

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It is a domino effect and some patients are so unaware of our schedules. It’s tough when a patient calls and the front desk tells them to come in when you would’ve rescheduled. Just do your best to get back on time. If you can only do exam and X-rays and reschedule you should still see patient like Hygenius suggests. We started giving out $5 starbucks cards to patients that are on time but seen late…this seems to help. I had someone walk out like you and we sent movie tickets. They loved it. Just a little something that shows you care.

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In our office it is at the individual hygienists discretion. If my 60 min pt is 15 min late I have them reschedule. If it is a 30 min child prophy I allow 10 min. Our office has an ‘overflow room’ that I can move my pt to for exam if necessary or have our sterilization asst take xrays on my next pt if need be. I always apologize to my patients for keeping them waiting!

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