28 answers

Appointment Cancellation Fee - What Happened

We missed our pediatrician's appointment. Happened for the first time in my life. We realized two hours later what happened and tried to reschedule to no avail.

Now we can't get an appointment for my newborn's well baby visit for two months (can't wait that long) and in addition we got charged a $50 fee. This is a good doctor who cares for both of our children and we'd hate to leave him but we feel that due to our relationship not mentioning lots of money he's made of our kids’ colds and tummy aches, that bill is uncalled for.
Has this happened to any of you and what's your advice?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Everyone - thanks for your input. I didn't expect so many responses and I was touched. What happened was: My husband, who is a much nicer person than I, called and asked the office manager to waive the fee since there was no "warning". He suggested that the fee information is posted for everyone to see. It is now - I checked.

Regarding a well baby appointment - again, my husband called again and again and finally got an appointment with another doctor, whom we don't really like, but what the heck. We are still not entirely comfortable with what happened and are considering changing doctors. It is such a hassle and with both of us working - very difficult. Hard to find a pediatrician who has evening/weekend hours. Any recommendations around Sparta, NJ?
Thanks so much to all the moms!

Featured Answers

Find another doctor! If you called saying you were running late they should of never charged you.

M. Santoro

I have to say I don't know of any doctor that doesn't have a fee for missing and appointment. I am worried that they would make you wait so long for a newborn visit. I would make it clear that if they don't see the baby quickly then you will have to go to another doctor.

I agree with Jeanmarie. Speak with the Doctor and find out if anything can be done. He may be willing to stay at the end or beginning of his day to accomodate you. If not, start asking around for another Doctor you can trust, even if it's just for the visit you need, and then keep the appt.s with the Doctor you like, going forward.

More Answers

Hi A.,

I work for a doctor who also charges a $50 fee for missed or late cancellations. The doctor has been known to waive the fee if the patient protests (nicely of course but firm). Have you tried asking to speak with the doctor to explain what happened? If you tell him/her what you told us, I think that they may consider waiving it. (Just don't expect it to happen ever again.) Doctors do not want to lose good business!

1 mom found this helpful

A pediatrician and his/her staff should #1 think of the well being of the patients, especially newborns. I think it is dangerous that the office is willing to jeopardize the well being of a newborn because of an honest error. All doctors have emergency appointment time in their schedule and an office that truly has you and your baby's best interest at heart would use that time to accomodate you.

Sure, if it is their policy to charge $50 for a missed appointment, then you need to accept that and pay. Many offices do have similar policies. However it is so irresponsible and incredibly unbelievable for them not to see your baby any sooner than 2 months.

Your first priority should be to get your baby to a doctor. Be it the one who blew you off or a new one that has some human compassion and genuinely cares about their patients. If you do get to see your regular dr. immediately (do not wait ant longer than a few days) I would also ask the staff to have your children's record's ready for you to take with you because you should leave that office. Don't walk, run! That is your second priority, find a new pediatrician. There are so many more out there better than this.

The only thing I could imagine that would make me stay would be if the dr. was not involved in this in any way and it was an honest mistake on the staff's part. That dr. should then offer you a personal apology and assure you that the staff has been reprimanded. Not for charging you, but refusing to see your baby in a timely manner.

I could not fathom my pediatrician's office ever treating any patient like that ever.

I do hope this works out for you. And congratulations on your new baby!


1 mom found this helpful

Have you tried to talk to the doctor or office manager personally? Most doctors that I have been to post their rules about 'no call/no shows" in their offices, but usually only bill repeat offenders. Often the administrative staff can get spiteful and give patients a hard time. The doctors sometimes don't know how unreasonable they are being. Talk to the doctor and if he won't make an exception for a first offense, then you should change pediatricians. I doubt your doctor would not want to lose your children as a patients.

Wish you all the best.

1 mom found this helpful

Find a new Pediatrician! The idea of not having "time" to see your newborn, and delay his/her care for two months!! That's bordering on negligence. What about if you needed to speak to him ... would he have "time" to take your call?

I'm not even considering the missed appointment fee.. that's just an inconvenient annoyance. Sometimes the office staff is so officious and obnoxious that they don't listen.( It's happened to me with my own doctor.)

Do they realize when they talk to you that you're talking about a newborn baby, and not a 12 yr old?

Please find another doctor. If you live in the Rockland County area,I have a recommendation for you!!!

If this is the first time you have missed an appointment and you have an established good reputation I would appeal this charge. Call up and talk. And regarding the well child visit for an infant, mention how important it is to keep infants on their vaccination schedule, etc. and given your good record in the past....
It is worth a try. If you are like me, I would hate to do it, but I would really hate getting my newborn off the regular schedule, including vaccinations, etc... The visits are so frequent with infants.
Basically grovel some but get the baby in. Because if you go to another doctor's office, you will have the same kind of wait.
Is this a group? Maybe you can see a different doctor sooner and then go back to your doctor for subsequesnt visits??
I hate this fee thing....I understand there are abusers, but if you have a good record, and good about paying bills, can they not understand you work and have a newborn???
I work with someone who has called and complained about remaining copays of $50 after surgery. And it's not like she cannot afford it...and she usually gets off....
It's worth a try....
Good luck!

go find another ped if they cant get you in for 2 months, thats just ridiculous. I work in healthcare and we have a fee for no shows but we waive it all the time. Call the office manager and/or doctor and ask them to waive it, you are entitled to forget with a newborn!! I drive from Sussex county to Kinnelon to my pediatrician because she is awesome and can fit me in no matter what anytime. I can give you her name if you want. She is sooo great with my son! Good luck. D.

Any mom of a two year old and newborn is bound to forget a few things everyday and the doctor and offica should be aware of that. If this is your first time missing an appointment they should out of curtosy for a mistake waive the fee but just be aware it is in there policy to do so and make sure you arent late or miss another appointment without calling ahead of time.

I feel for you and it has happened to me. You need to get on the phone and speak to someone who has authority to take the fee off and dont get off that phone untill it does.

if they refuse then you need to make the descion wether you want to stay with a doctor who doesnt work with the patients.

hope this helps. good luck!

I have to say I don't know of any doctor that doesn't have a fee for missing and appointment. I am worried that they would make you wait so long for a newborn visit. I would make it clear that if they don't see the baby quickly then you will have to go to another doctor.

We're talking about two seperate issues here.

The first being the fee. It has nothing to do with an office manager being kind or not. My sister works for a Peds group and you'd be astonished to know how many no shows they get. Yes, this fee is in place to deter that. Even with the $50, they're losing money on what they could have been making had someone filled that slot. That being said, it doesn't hurt to ask (nicely) for the fee to be waived, but you can't expect that it would or should be. That's their policy and you knew or should have known about it. Either way, I bet you'll not forget again! /grin

What does concern me is how booked up this doctor is. It's hard to believe they can't squeeze you in somewhere. Too bad you can't go on stand-by.

What does your insurance company say? Will they allow you to make an appointment with another health care provider for this one time situation, then resume your schedule with your normal doctor?

Since you like this guy, if I were you, I'd do what was needed to stay with him. It's hard to find someone you like and trust.

Good luck!

Working for a insurance company alot of doctors office charge for a cancellation fee but never that high. I would honestly call the office see if they can do anything for you. The receptionist as it is speak with the doctor anyway worst comes to worst ask to speak with the doctor. I know you probably are frustrated but try your hardest to be nice because that will get you further. If you have been with this pediatrician I would try my hardest to call everyday to see if there is cancellation and see if they can get you in at some point but if front desk can not help I would then speak with the doctor. Good Luck!!

They must have a cancellation fee policy. Check it out to make sure that you are not being mistreated, but try to negotiate anyway considering your good history so far.
Second issue is the well appoinments visit for your newborn - this is unacceptable!!!!! Those should be scheduled on regular basis on very specific times regardless of what is happening in their office!!!! If they have too many patients or not enough doctors they should let their patients know that they should change the doctor!!! UNACCEPTABLE and very dangerous! Request to talk to the doctor asap and if that doesn't work - change the doctor.
Good luck!

you have a newborn and you can't get an appointment for 2 months? that seems odd. the money thing is the least worrisome part of your situation. there are plenty of doctors out there, not many good ones, but you should always keep looking for the best ones for you and your family. (just my 2 cents) best to you.

A., I have missed doctors appointments before and have never been charged. I have four kids it is not easy to juggle everything. You can not wait to see the doctor they always fit newborns in asap... I would call and talk to the doctors nurse or the doctor directly... Good luck and if you have to find another doctor..
Mom helping MOMS work from home

My doctor does not charge this fee. Also, he can fit me anytime I call. I think you need a more accomodating MD.

It's never happened to me but I understand most doctors today charge a fee for missed appointments....NOT NICE TO CHARGE SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER MISSED AN APPOINTMENTS BEFORE.
and making you wait 2 months for another appointment isn't in the baby's best interest...so find yourself another doctor....

People miss appointments...
All the time!!
It's why they made up the $50 fee, they are sick of it. I would think they'd at least give you a new appointment for the $50. If they have this fee, they are used to rescheduling.
But, they have to notify you of these charges....
Is it posted in the office?
Go in personally. to see...while you are there try to reschedule...they may see you on the spot.

But, they are not that busy that they can't squeeze you in....If it was a sick call, they'd find room. You don't wait 2 months when you are sick....they have slots.

At least make one last call to them. Make them realize its a well baby visit for a newborn and you need to have the baby seen and progress recorded even if there is nothing wrong. It helps to spot a problem down the line too with growth and development. If they find you an appointment. If you are not someone who abuses them, comes on time....ask the Doctor to waive it when you are there. Doctors offices call and expect us to change appointments when something comes up...emergency situations....things come up.

If they won't get you in sooner, make some calls and find another office that will. It can be temporary until you find a more convenient located Dr. to be your official pediatrician. Then, have the records sent to where you will be going permanently.

The old Doctor???
If they couldn't get you in....you had to go somewhere who will see her. Don't feel bad.

When they have a medical records request from the new doctor, they will realize the hard way that they lost a patient because they could not see you.

Send the Dr's office five cents a month towards the bill.
As long as you are paying something, it won't go to collections or on your credit.

Find a new Dr.! Did they call you ahead of time for a courtesy reminder? If not, the fee should absolutely be waived! And....doctors always take patients at the last minute, or resheduling within the week - why do you think we are always caught waiting in the waiting room for up to 1 hour? Good luck!

If your baby is due for a specific month well baby check (and possibly vaccinations, if you do vaccines), then two months is not acceptable as a wait time, and this doctor is too busy to care for your baby. As for missing the appointment, if you forgot about it and didn't realize til two hours later, you did not cancel the appointment, you just didn't show up. Most doctors of all types will charge you if you do not give 24 hours notice to cancel before an appointment. However, your doctor should have this information clearly posted somewhere and it should not come as a surprise to you. I think it's quite acceptable for the doctor to charge for the time (since obviously he's so busy that he cant' give you a well baby check for two months) but it's not acceptable if you were not informed of this financial policy, so I would call the office and ask how they typically advise patients of their financial policy

ALthough many MD's do have a fee for missing appts., I would ask if they feel that allowing a newborn to wait two months for a well check is their policy of providing appropriate care for your baby? I wouldn't grovel at all because this may be an indication that this MD or office does not put your child's needs first. It may be that the receptionist is not "in the know" or is mistaken. I would clarify and then move on to another Peds. if they stick by their polilcy of making you wait. I changed peds. from a NJ office and although they are a busy office they were able to see my newborn in a timely manner to accomodate the usual well visit/vaccination schedule.

i don't agree with the fee..for my dr. it is 25 bucks...however, is it worth trying to find a new doc? how come they didn't call u? with a 2yr old and a newborn i can see how easy it would be to forget an appt. my son is 14 mos old...he is an only child so far and i forget..ur human.i would really try and push for that well visit. two months is WAY too long to wait for a well visit.

If this was for anything other than a well baby visit I'd say brush it aside, but this was for a well baby visit!! I hate to say this but it may be time to find a new pediatrician. I couldn't imagine any doctor pushing a well visit back 2 months!- 2 weeks, maybe but not 2 months! That's rediculous! Who is telling you this by the way? Is it the receptionist? Maybe he or she is just mad and is taking it persoannally.....can you try to get a hold of the doctor and see what his or her reaction is? I have a funny feeling the doctor would fit you in his or her schedule in lot less time than 2 months from now. I wish ytou lived closer to me, I'd recommend my daughter's pediatrician, he's great!

It sounds like this doctor has an office manager who is not so very kind. I doubt that he/she knows what is going on. We are imperfect humans and we do forget things once in a while. I think I would try to talk to the doctor himself and bypass the office help. If that doesn't work in one day's time, I would find another doctor immediately. Your newborn needs medical supervision and you don't have time to play games with this doctor's office.

This seems ridiculous to me, did they call and remind you of the appt? I know some places do have a policy of charging for missed appointments, but $50 seems a little extreme. The policy is just supposed to deter people from missing their appointments, not for the office to make money on.

Secondly, making a newborn wait two months for a well child visit is uncalled for. Well-child appointments are necessary for a reason, If I were you I would call back and have the pediatrician call me and speak to them personally about this. If they don't budge look for a new doctor. You may have had a lot of experience with this doctor and that obviously means something to you, but it also obviously means nothing to the doctor. My daughter's doctor's office always squeezes her in whenever I call, a few times I called around 11 when I got out of work and I brought her in that afternoon, always with a little wait time so you know they didn't have any openings. Pediatricians, especially need to be flexible, if they are not they are putting their own interests and schedules above the health of your children which is not right.

In short find a new doctor, not so much because of the outrageous fee, but because waiting two months for an appt is unecsessary no matter what office you go to.

Actually a lot of doctors have a cancellation fee. I haven't heard of it being quite so high though. Since he's such a busy doctor obviously he's making good money. You might try talking to him and asking him if he'll let it slide this time since you have never let it happen before. Just be prepared that if he let's it slide you'll have to pay if you ever forget again. If you really like this doctor be sticky sweet to the receptionist and she'll probably find you an opening. If not then definately ask to speak directly to the doctor. I know it's frustrating, but try to be nice about it. It's easy to get angry when people don't cooperate, especially when you have a new baby to take care of.

Find another doctor! If you called saying you were running late they should of never charged you.

M. Santoro


I am so irritated by your experience! I would have be infuriated!. It's a 'Well-Being' visit, they're crutial. This doctor probably has no clue about any of this. The staff who are responsible for scheduling and billing are the ones to be irate with. But bottom line is, it doesn't solve anything. They are the staff and it's probably not going to change. Unfortunetly that's what us parents have to deal with in order to see the doctors themselves. So, my advice is for you to find a pediatrician AND staff that will accomidate you, care for you and your childrens needs and be a little sympothetic to the every-day mistakes that we humans make once in a while. That office that you deal with is clearly gouging your wallet. Interview the ones that you find and spend a little time in their offices just in the waiting room if you have to and observe the staff and their work ethics. It's slightly time consuming but well worth it whe you finally find the right offic for you and your family. Good Luck!

Not that this is what you wanna hear, but lots of doc's do this. Even your own. I know my doc's have left messages on my machine saying that if we don't give more then 24 hrs notice of a cancellation that we would be charged.

I agree with Jeanmarie. Speak with the Doctor and find out if anything can be done. He may be willing to stay at the end or beginning of his day to accomodate you. If not, start asking around for another Doctor you can trust, even if it's just for the visit you need, and then keep the appt.s with the Doctor you like, going forward.

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