Patients Running Late Policy

This Scheduling Coordinator resource document provides a policy to assess next steps for any patient who is running late.

Patients Running Late

On occasion, patients will run late for any number of reasons. If they are only late by a couple of minutes the impact is minimal, but if the patient is going to be 15 minutes late or more a quick assessment must be made to see if that will be acceptable.

When a patient calls to say they are going to be late, it is the responsibility of the employee that is handling that patient to determine how realistically late they are going to be. It is ok to ask questions. For example: they say they are running 10 min late but they are in a town 30 minutes from the office, more than likely they will not be there in 10 min. This data gathering needs to be done to help determine when the patient will realistically arrive.

In general, an adult patient who has an hour-long appointment scheduled and calls to say he will be 15 minute late is better off rescheduled. While it is always the goal to have a full schedule the side effects of throwing it off can be stressful and unnecessarily affect other patients. Alternatively, an 8 year old patient who doesn’t need radiographs at his RECARE could possibly be 20 minutes late without a negative impact to the schedule.


  • Is the next appointment open?
  • Is there another hygienist available within a short about of time?

View the complete document and print out a copy for your office below!