Medical Liability for Missed Appointments

     A recent article in American Medical News notes that missed follow-up appointments are of increasing concern as a source of medical liability.  Missed appointments and failure to follow-up creates the potential for missed or delayed diagnosis.

     Medical liability experts recommend that physicians adapt a series of measures to address the problem of missed appointments to minimize medical liability.  Some of these recommendations include implementing policies for handling no-shows, assigning a staff member to contact a no-show patient, documenting no-shows in the patient record, and informing the physician of a no-show event.


     Certain appointment scheduling programs are ideally suited for addressing these concerns.  Many offices use for their appointment scheduling needs since this site addresses problems for no-show patients. provides an electronic appointment trail for every confirmed, missed, or canceled appointment.  A utility on the program allows a back-up of appointments to a remote ebox for storage, filtering, and retrieval.  Missed appointments may be promptly addressed through a proprietary system.  When a member of the office staff clicks the No-Show assigned to a patient appointment, DayClips sends a message to a patient, by email and text, notifying them that they have missed their appointment.  The same message offers them an opportunity to reschedule their appointment.


     Preventive measures should also be undertaken to minimize missed appointments.  Many online appointment scheduling programs may be configured to automatically remind patients of upcoming appointments.  Some medical appointment programs have a module that sends periodic reminders that are configured according to lapse or time and type of last appointment.  For example, glaucoma patients are often seen every four months.  An online appointment scheduling system can be set up to regularly remind patients with this diagnosis of their follow-up appointments.

     Missed appointments are inevitable for most medical practices, but the method of addressing this type of scenario needs to be given careful attention.  Medical providers who recognize and adequately address missed appointments will reduce their exposure to medical liability.