In Practice

Appointment cancellations and no shows: To charge or not to charge?

A Barit


Every day patients make appointments with doctors in order for both to be able to schedule their time accordingly. All is well unless one of the parties cancels the appointment. In the case of a cancellation that is within 2 hours of a general practitioner visit or 24 hours of a specialist visit, the patient is usually charged for either the full consultation or part thereof. Doctors may also have reasons to cancel and rearrange their appointments with patients, yet there is no penalty placed on the doctor for such behaviour. There appears to be a mismatch between the disincentives for the patient not to cancel v. those of the doctor not to cancel. In this article, the legal and ethical aspects of charging for a missed appointment will be dealt with in order to determine the current situation in South Africa. Furthermore, research into missed appointments will be discussed to ascertain the major causes and provide recommendations to prevent missed appointments from occurring.

Author's affiliations

A Barit, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Medicine; Law; Appointments; Medical practice

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2019;109(10):733-735. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i10.14050

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-09-30
Date published: 2019-09-30

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