Managing Short Notice Cancellations

Most Dental Practices require two working days notice to change a scheduled appointment.  When receiving a short notice cancellation (SNC) you must use your discretion related to the patient’s reasons for short notice canceling. In circumstances where it is evident that a SNC is due to a clear emergency situation, tolerance and support of the patient’s situation is important.  Re-schedule the appointment at this time if possible.

In situations where a SNC is due to a patient oversight or a patient not wanting to be “inconvenienced” by the appointment, it is important that the patient is supported to make an effort to keep their appointment and inform them of the practice’s cancellation policy related to the possibility of short notice cancellation / no show of future appointments.  Share with the patient that the advanced notification (2 working days) is the time necessary to provide the appointment to other patients wanting to schedule.  This is the only method by which the practice can provide timely service to all the patients of the practice.


Whenever speaking to patients about the practice’s scheduling policies the purpose is to educate and make the patient aware, with the intent of saving the integrity of the patient’s relationship with the practice. Follow the communication guidelines in Recall System Pro.  It is important not to take the cancellation personally or react negatively towards the patient.

In situations where the patient’s behavior simply reflects disregard or a negligent attitude towards keeping appointments, it is important that the patient is made aware of the cancellation policy, and that future appointments may need to be secured with a credit card number.

Always make a note in the patient’s chart related to any type of SNC or No Show situation. Indicate the date, short notice cancellation & reason given, patient notified of policy, and your initials. This record will help you to deal with the patient appropriately if any future incidences occur.