Dos and don'ts for scheduling: Coping with the chronically late patient

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We've all had patients who can't manage to arrive on time for appointments. You can't scold them, and if you refuse to "bend" somewhat to accommodate them, they may well go off to some other practice. Yet their behavior inconveniences other patients and creates bottlenecks in your daily schedule. What to do?

Do

Schedule the always-late patient 20 minutes "early." Note which patients arrive late. As soon as one has been late twice in a row, that name goes on your "late list." From then on, build in a 20-minute cushion when scheduling so that the late arrival is actually on time.

Don't

Don't forget to thank patients who arrive on time. People's lives are busier than ever and being punctual can be challenging, so thank patients for helping keep your practice on schedule.

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