A prospective audit examining non-attendance at a surgical outpatients clinic in Mater Dei Hospital, Malta, and methods to reduce this problem

Edwards, Nathan; Cini, David; Dingli, Gordon Caruana
May 2014
Malta Medical Journal;2014, Vol. 26 Issue 2, p15
Academic Journal
Non-attendance at hospital outpatient clinics is a longstanding issue that has potentially serious clinical implications, and contributes a significant financial burden to health care services. The aims of this study were to identify the rate of non-attendance at a surgical outpatients clinic in Mater Dei Hospital, Malta, ascertain the reasons for non-attendance, and to identify patients' opinions on the implementation of a text-messaging reminder system as a means of reducing the nonattendance rate. Four outpatient clinics were observed over one month and the total number of appointments documented. Non-attenders were contacted via telephone call and asked to explain their non-attendance and whether a text-messaging reminder system may have increased their likelihood of attendance. Of the 266 appointments (217 females, 49 males, mean age 56 + 16 years), 80 patients failed to turn up, representing a 30% non-attendance rate. The main reasons for non-attendance were forgetfulness (53%), and unawareness of the appointment (26%). 90% of non-attenders stated that a text-messaging reminder might have prevented them missing their appointment, with 97% suggesting that such as system would be an acceptable method of trying to reduce this problem. Thus application of a textmessaging reminder system represents a potential solution for reducing the high rate of missed outpatient appointments, which is both cost effective and well accepted by patients.


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