Ask HRC: Contacting Patients Who Fail to Show Up For Follow-Up Appointments

January 31, 2012 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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An ECRI Institute member recently asked how many attempts should be made by a facility to contact a patient who fails to show up for a follow-up appointment or specialty referral. When attempting to reach a patient who fails to show up for a follow-up appointment, a minimum of three attempts to contact the individual is reasonable, but, Healthcare Risk Control notes, from a liability perspective, it is very important that all of these attempts are properly documented.

Because the focus of reaching the patient should be on ensuring that the patient is receiving appropriate care or information, rather than solely on limiting liability, facilities may also want to examine how these attempts are being made and whether staff are trying to contact the patient in the same way each time. For example, if a staff member contacts a patient by phone and gets no response, the facility may also want to try...

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