How patient no shows have a ripple effect on clinics, hospitals

Increasing no shows, late arrivals and long waits for a doctor’s appointment at clinics and hospitals across the UAE are raising concerns over their ripple effects and how they are dealt with.

Clinics and hospitals, which see around 20-30 patients a day, claim that no shows account for up to 30 per cent of their appointments, leading to losses and deprivation of slots to cases that need them most. But punctual patients on their part complain that they end up being punished as the health care facilities accommodate over-bookings and walk-ins to compensate for the no shows.

Dr Sherbaz Bichu, Chief Executive Officer at Aster Hospitals (Mankhool and Al Ghusais), said, “Patients who don’t turn up often tell us that there was no one to bring them to the clinic as the spouse was out at work or that they had to attend to their children.”

He said latecomers also upset schedules. “We advise patients to come 15-20 minutes before an appointment to complete admin work. A typical appointment lasts for 15 to 20 minutes. But invariably three to four out of 10 patients come late. This has a domino effect and is unfair to other patients who come on time. We try to manage the situation but it can be challenging at times.”

Patients also contend that doctors themselves are late at times, with specialities seeing a higher probability of this happening. But hospitals said that can be expected at times as these doctors have to attend to emergencies and as far as possible, they do notify patients of possible delays.

Rampant no shows have also sparked a debate on whether patients should be charged a fee if they don’t turn up or are late. “That is not an option at all,” said Dr Bichu.


Dr. Sherbaz Bichu 

CEO & Specialist Anesthetist 

Aster Hospitals, UAE