Should we pursue patients who fail to attend colorectal clinics? A 9-year study

Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2007 Jul;89(5):484-6. doi: 10.1308/003588407X183319.


Introduction: No uniform protocol exists on how to deal with patients who fail to attend colorectal clinics. Our aim was to identify whether the tendency to 'failure to attend' (FTA) in the colorectal clinic was associated with FTA in other clinics and also whether FTA patients have serious pathology.

Patients and methods: This was a retrospective study of a prospectively recorded list of FTA patients, in colorectal urgent or two-week wait clinics from 1996-2004.

Results: A total of 151 patients, who failed to attend their first appointment, were included in the study. Of these, 61 (40.4%) were colorectal referrals, 76 (50.3%) were general surgical referrals, and for 14 (9.3%) case notes were not available. There were 59 FTA episodes in 61 colorectal patients associated with 59 FTA episodes in other clinics (Pearson correlation: r = 0.411; P = 0.01, two-tailed, SPSS v.12). Of 58 colorectal outcomes, five (8.6%) colorectal cancers (CRC) were diagnosed, 23 (39.6%) were persistent non-attendees, 16 (27.5%) had benign colorectal pathology, two (3.4%) benign non-colorectal outcomes and 12 (20.6%) normal outcomes.

Conclusions: Tendency to FTA is habitual. Care needs to be exercised in the management of FTAs to avoid delayed presentation of colorectal cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Refusal / statistics & numerical data*