Ida-Viru Central Hospital to charge for uncancelled specialist appointments

Ida-Viru Central Hospital in Kohtla-Järve, Northeastern Estonia.
Ida-Viru Central Hospital in Kohtla-Järve, Northeastern Estonia. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

Ida-Viru Central Hospital is having trouble with patients not showing up to scheduled specialist appointments. To combat this issue, beginning next year, the hospital will start charging visit fees for no-show appointments as well.

Last year, patients at Ida-Viru Central Hospital failed to show up for scheduled appointments a total of nearly 9,500 times, accounting for some 5% of all hospital visits, reported ETV news broadcast Aktuaalne kaamera.

"Patients need to be disciplined to understand that if they cannot make their appointment, they need to let us know so that we can offer it to another patient," explained Aime Keis, chief doctor at the Ida-Viru County hospital, adding that in theory, at least, this will shorten waiting lists for an appointment.

"According to statistics, 30-35 people per day failed to show up for an appointment last year, which equals a full work day for a specialist," she noted. "In other words, we could have gotten in an additional two days' worth of patients."

Should a patient arriving for their next appointment still owe their visit fee from a prior no-show appointment, however, they won't be denied care. Keis confirmed that the patient will still be administered care, but thereafter they must agree to some means of payment.

Patients themselves, meanwhile, are divided on the change in policy.

"It is difficult to get an appointment with specialists, and waiting lists are long," one patient said. "It's good if appointments open up, thanks to which other patients can be seen sooner. This change stresses responsibility, and one could say that it is tough but fair."

"There may be various reasons one doesn't show up for an appointment," said another patient. "Someone might forget, or be late. They should be fined if they intentionally don't show up, although it would be very difficult to confirm whether they didn't show up on purpose or by accident."

Keis, meanwhile, confirmed that in the case of force majeure, or unforeseeable circumstances, these would be taken into account and the patient would not be charged.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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