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Why You Shouldn't Miss Your Child's Pediatric Doctor Appointments

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Why You Shouldn't Miss Your Child's Pediatric Doctor Appointments

Oct 23, 2023

As a busy parent, it's easy to let your child's routine doctor appointments slip through the cracks. But skipping or missing those check-ups can have consequences for your child's health—and prevent other kids from receiving care. Pediatrician Cindy Gellner, MD, explains the importance of keeping those appointments and why canceling and rescheduling is always a better option than simply not showing up.

Episode Transcript

What happens when you are a no-show for an appointment with your pediatrician? Well, this happens more than you would think, and it's actually something that causes a lot of stress for your pediatrician.

The Impact of No-Shows on Pediatricians and Patients

First, we worry about your child. If your child is scheduled for a sick visit and you no-show, was your child so sick that they ended up in the hospital before their appointment? We as pediatricians really care about your kids, so it makes us worry if they miss a sick visit.

If your child is scheduled for a well-visit and you miss, did your child get sick? Even if your child is sick and you don't know if we can do the well-visit, bring them in any way. We would rather see them for the sick illness and take care of them, and then reschedule the well-visit, than not have them checked at all.

Missed Opportunities to Check on Child's Health and Wellness

If your child misses a well-visit, that's an opportunity that we are missing to make sure your child is growing okay, is meeting their milestones, and is getting any vaccines they might need.

If your child misses an appointment for a medication refill, that gets tricky too. We want to make sure that they are doing well on their medications, and that they don't need their medications adjusted.

Also, for some medications, like ADHD medications, kids have to be seen at certain intervals, and if appointments are missed, it may be hard to reschedule them in the timeframe where they need to be seen before they run out of medications.

Sometimes if it's been too long since we've seen them, we really can't refill their medications without an appointment.

Regardless of what your child was scheduled for, if you miss an appointment, it's a missed opportunity for us to check in on your child and address any concerns you have.

Depriving Other Patients of the Opportunity to See Their Pediatrician

Another reason that no-shows are concerning for pediatricians is that we are all really busy and have a lot of patients who want to see us, and sometimes they can't because we're so busy. I have a lot of patients not show up to their appointments, and then I also have a lot of parents tell me they really wanted to get their child in to see me, but I didn't have any open appointments for days or longer.

So if your child has an appointment and misses that appointment, that is actually taking a spot away from another child who might really have needed to be seen right away. That child may have had to go to an urgent care provider that they've never seen before, or even to the emergency room because they needed to be seen but I did not have any open appointments.

The Importance of Keeping Your Doctor's Appointments

This is one of the biggest concerns that pediatricians have when you don't show up to an appointment. You deprive other patients of the opportunity to be seen by their pediatrician when they need to be. 

Finally, it should be mentioned that most people think pediatricians are paid on salary, so it doesn't matter if you show up or not because your doctor gets paid all the same. Well, let me let you know that this is not true. Most physicians are paid based on how many patients they see and what they see a patient for.

So if half of my patient's no-show for me, my paycheck essentially gets cut in half. For pediatricians who run their own practice, that also means it's harder to pay their bills and run their office.

And during COVID, this hit a lot of doctors hard. A lot of my colleagues actually left the profession because of this.

Many offices have penalties for patients’ no-shows, anywhere from a no-show fee to being dismissed from seeing their doctor if they miss too many appointments.

As pediatricians, we form strong bonds with our patients and their families, and we want to see you. So please, if you have an appointment, please keep it. And if you need to cancel, give us plenty of notice so we can get another child in who may need to be seen quite urgently.


updated: October 23, 2023
originally published: April 13, 2023