How do the waiting list numbers in hospitals work?

Like if I make an online appointment and get told my sequence number is 45, and then turn up as soon as the clinic opens, do they call numbers in the order people arrive and stick their cards in the waiting list machine, or will everyone with a lower sequence number than me but who arrives later be seen first?

I’m confused as to what time is best to turn up.

Depends on the doctor/hospital/clinic.
Some follow strictly the number sequence, and later recall those who got skipped.
Others call by the order of arrival.
There’s no rule, really.


My hospital has an online page that shows you the current number. It also shows which appointments were cancelled and which people showed up and are waiting.

Required the wife to send me the page link because I doubt I’d be able to find it myself.

Usually I don’t wait for very long but wasted 3 hours today getting there too soon. I was number 59. The appointment slip suggested me to be there at 1030. Didn’t leave until 3pm.


In my experience…it depends. Just stick your card in when you get there and see what happens. I usually treat the numbers as a guideline and try to arrive earlier if the number is low and later if it’s high (although the meaning of “low” and “high” varies here - some clinics only seem to handle a couple of dozen patients per session, whereas for others it’s over a hundred and the sessions routinely overrun).

But I don’t worry too much about missing my number being called as every hospital I’ve been to (NTUH, Tri-Service, Mackay, Cathay, and TMUH) just adds you to the end of the current list anyway, and I’ve also seen high-number patients being called in early if nobody else is there. I actually prefer to arrive later, often after my number has already been called, to avoid the risk of having to wait around for hours. You can usually check the current number on the booking page and try to time your arrival if you like, at least for major hospitals.

It’s better to try to arrive before the clinic cutoff time for that session though (usually 30 or 60 min before the nominal end of the session and stated on the appointment booking page). Some hospitals/doctors are strict about that and other’s aren’t, but if you arrive after that you risk not being able to see the doctor (especially if they weren’t busy and have already rushed off).


That seems strange - which hospital was that? Most hospitals are separated into morning and afternoon (and sometimes evening) clinics…so 3 pm is quite late for the morning session to run on until!

1 Like

When I go to the hospital it’s always to the dermatology department. But today, I went for a health check for my job which begins by seeing a general practice doctor. It became obvious almost everyone else was there for the same reason - jobs requiring health checks. It was no fun at all.


Ah okay - that makes sense. I figured it’d probably be something not part of the regular morning and afternoon clinics!

I forgot to explain why I got the dermatology department. I have skin cancers that are either frozen or cut out. Take care of your skin. Wear long sleeves, a hat, and even gloves !!! Just had one cut from the leg behind and below the knee. I have not gotten that skin sun burned since I was in my 20s. Nearly 30 years later the damage is revealed. Might have been the sun. Might not have.


In my experience what they do is make a separate waiting list of late arrivals, and they can see the doctor at the rate of about 1 for every 2 or 3 on time people.


Sigh. I figure this is impossible to reliably time. I’m #25 of 35. Paper said arrive 3-3:30. Doctor supposed to be seeing people 2pm onwards. Arrived at 3:05, when #26 had just been called in. And have now been waiting an hour. They’ve finished up to 35, and are now up to #16 for those who missed their turn.

But every time is different.

It’s such a weird system. I turned up on Monday with #35 but popped my card into the machine before anyone had even turned up or the clinic had opened.

The saving grace was that after 20 mins of waiting, and after 5 or 6 people (who arrived after me) had been called in, the nurse noticed I’d been waiting the longest, took pity on me, and told me she’d ask the doctor to call me next.

It was funny though, because I was standing there hoping everyone who walked over was going to a different clinic and cursing those who baogao’d for my clinic.

1 Like

This is exactly why I usually rock up just as the clinic is closing, play the confused foreigner card, and get seen pretty much immediately. :grin:

1 Like

A warning for this tactic at the hospital, however: if the doctor sends you to do a whole bunch of other errands around the hospital - further appointments, etc. - you may get in trouble with everything having closed, and you’ll need to come back on a later day to take care of those.


Yeah, that’s definitely true - I wouldn’t necessarily do this if I’m expecting to need some blood tests or whatever after an evening appointment.

1 Like

Today at Taipei MacKay was perfect. I was #16 for a 9am slot. Arrived at 10am and #17 had just been called. Oh no, would I be waiting for hours? My name appeared as #2 on the waiting list, and they alternated between “current” list and waiting list, and I was in there in a few minutes. Great! But why isn’t it always that way?!

Conversely, I went to see a neurologist at TMUH yesterday with a queue number of 36 and a suggested arrival time of 7:45pm, stuck my card in at 6:15pm, and didn’t get seen until 9pm. Annoying. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I wouldn’t normally go so early, but had to do a nerve conduction thing in the afternoon so was already there (seem to have damaged my ulnar nerve by too much time in front of a computer). I’m gonna go back to rocking up at 8:29pm in the future, anyway. :roll_eyes: