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October 1964

Urgency as a Factor In Clinic Attendance

Author Affiliations

J. Philip Ambuel, MD, The Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio 43205.; Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, and Medical Director, Out-Patient Department, The Children's Hospital (Dr. Ambuel); The Children's Hospital (Jan Cebulla); The Ohio State University (Dr. Watt); Assistant Professor, Psychology, The Ohio State University (Dr. Crowne).; From the Department of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, and The Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University College of Education. This work was done at The Children's Hospital under the supervision of its research division CHILD.

Am J Dis Child. 1964;108(4):394-398. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1964.02090010396009

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Outpatient clinics, as well as private practices, have a weak link, namely the problem of appointment breaking. The weakness of this link can be crucial in cases where a return appointment is vital to the patient's health.

In a larger view, appointment breaking is a symptom of inadequate follow-through on medical care. Included in this is failure of the mother to understand recommended treatment, or failure to follow directions.

Within a teaching framework, where broken appointments create problems in planning a comprehensive program, various remedies have been tried. The hospital management has focused attention on efficient utilization of outpatient facilities by revising appointment systems and providing more pleasant physical surroundings.1,2 Medical educators are attempting to teach students communication skills that will improve relationships between doctor and patient.3,4 Recently, research has been directed toward identifying those who break appointments