Friday, May 21, 2010

$2.15

Hey all,

You know sometimes all this blog is telling are the problems with dentistry.
That is not real my intention.
You must say to yourself sometimes that this guy is a real Eeyore.
I do, however, remember how it feels to be alone and depressed (like it was yesterday, wait it was yesterday) and I want to make sure you are not feeling the same way. So I tell you stories of the stuff that goes on in my office, and most of the time I tell you about the stuff that goes wrong. I think I do this simple because of two reasons. One, if I tell you all the stuff that is going right, then it kind of sounds like I am bragging and a bit full of myself. Two, the most important reason, I don't want to you to think that crap only happens to you.

Today is going to be about more crap. Aren't you feeling better already?

I have this family that are patients of mine, well use to be patients of mine.
You know from past blogs that I hate losing patients, so you know that I hate telling this story.

This is a family of nine. No, this is not a typo, it is a set of parents with 7 children. I have known this about this family for a long time. They live and work in Apopka, and you can't live and work in Apopka and not know this family.

About 5 years ago, the husband came to see me for a second opinion. By the way, if you don't know what a second opinion implies, it basically means that the patient is saying, "I have lost faith in my dentist for some reason or another and if I like what you have to say then I am going to switch to you." So he comes in and loves it.

He has a new patient exam and then so do 4 of the kids and then the wife. Before the husband had all of his work done, the wife gave me a call and asked if I could give them a "large family discount". Look, I don't bite the hand that feeds me, and I said, "No problem." I think I gave them 25% off after the insurance paid. I think this is fair. I mean they take a whole day of hygiene to clean their family's teeth.

All the kids are great. I think I end up seeing 6 of them. One has graduated from college and lives in Arizona or something. The boys are handsome, and the girls are darling. The dad needs quite a bit of dental work, and the wife is totally fine.

So me and the father begin this pretty good relationship. He had some old dentistry, large amalgam fillings, a pretty ugly mouth if you ask me. Over the next 5 months we do a lot of dental work together. I think I do some pretty nice work. I was pretty proud of what I did, and I think he was pretty happy as well.

Now don't think I didn't go over and above for this family. I turned on the charisma big time. Every time I saw someone for work I would call. I would send letters of appreciation ... everything I could to assure that they were happy patients.

Well they started coming for regular recall and things were humming along pretty well. I mean, as a dentist, this is what you want. You want people to come in with needs. You take care of their needs, they love you for helping them with their needs, they trust you, and then see you every six months for the rest of their life. Easy peasy. That is how you build an office full of Raving Fans.

So things were humming along, and I hear from my assistant that they are leaving the practice. (By the by, if it wasn't for my assistant, I wouldn't know half of the crap that goes on around here.)
WHAT!!!???
Turns out the wife was mad because they had to pay a bill.
I said, "What do you mean?"
Well, it turns out that after insurance paid they had a bit of a balance.
Two dollars and fifteen cents!!!
The wife calls up a bit annoyed and says that at their other dentist they never had to pay after the insurance paid.
What do you say to that?
"Well, you are not at your old dentist."
She also indicated that I could just write that off if I wanted to.

Now do you see what just happened there? We went from struggling to pay because I have a large family to unappreciative. This folks, pisses me off. I have done the best I can. I felt like I did the best dentistry I could. I gave the best service I could. And I did it at a reduced price, and all of a sudden it is not enough.
Of course I could write it off.
To me it is not the $2.15 cents. It is not the money. It is about mutual respect. You have a problem. I do the best I can to help you with your problem the best I can and you pay. This is what EVERYONE does.

Does the paying part suck? Sometimes it does, and I know that, but it IS part of it.
Maybe it didn't piss me off as much as it hurt me.

It hurts because I used to think if I did everything to help my friends they would be my patients forever. Not the case. So now I am back to doubting myself. It couldn't be the $2.15 they were upset about. It must have been something I did. I must have done something to upset them enough to let a $2.15 bill to be the mountain they are going to stand on.

Is $2.15 worth losing your dentist over?
Is $2.15 worth losing a family of 9 over?
Well it was to me, and apparently it was to them.

Man I need a drink?
Sweet tea vodka here I come (The AGD says I have to say that it doesn't condone drinking to handle all your problems.....but it sure as heck helps on days like these. )

Have a great weekend,
john

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is human nature give an inch and they take a mile. Don't feel bad it happens to me too. I stick to me principles and tell them to do what they need to do. BTW you know it ins fraud to write off the patients portion they should pay. That is the part that gets me.

Anonymous said...

$2.15!? That is so freaking petty. I hope this large family that left your practice is replaced by more respectful and appreciative patients. Don't let it get you down. Some folks are just jerks.

Anonymous said...

"at their other dentist they never had to pay after the insurance paid"

wow... really? even with all the husband's dental works? what kind of insurance is that? i'd be the first to sign up.

kaz said...

man, that sucks-- and i know how badly you wanted to pick up the phone and let them know EXACTLY how you felt about their unfairness...you can't win them all AND you don't need people like that in your practice anyway. not worth it. i tell myself that while asking for a refresher on that sweet tea+grey goose.

Anonymous said...

Don't take it bad. As a patient, I can say it's really stupid to fire your dentist over $2.15. Is the next dentist going to be as careful as the last? Will he have as good a handle on what's going on in your mouth? He may be good, but he still hasn't seen the history first-hand.

I stick with my dentist, among other reasons, because I want him to feel responsible for decisions he makes, and for helping me out the best he can. Because he'll be dealing with the consequences of those decisions, good or bad, further down the line.

I'm sorry... if $2.15 is too much to pay for your health, you deserve whatever you get.

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