Regarding Wednesday's blog, here are the 4 comments...
Now for me this was what I thought right off....
I was right on board with the other dentists about this patient until the last comment.
I realized how we (dentists) sound to non-dentist readers.
I do feel like we say CYA a lot, but that is the sign of the times.
You can't help but think that everyone is so sue conscious in our profession (you kind of get scared of it all the time)
Actually, I have become less and less as the years go on (and a bit more jaded) and think to myself "You wanna take this away from me...go ahead."
My first thought was that Dr. A got a patient that had an expensive problem. And yes, I think most people that come into our offices become a-holes, not because they are scared (which is totally justified. Sometimes getting dental work sucks, and we need to do the best we can to try to make it suck less), but most of the time they act like jerks is because they have a problem and they don't have the money to fix it.
Trust me, I become an a-hole when I am put in that situation.
So for me, it had nothing to do with what the dentist was doing. It had nothing to do with whether he had a chart or not. It had nothing to do with how well Dr. A treated him or how much of a discount he wanted to give, the guy was not going to be satisfied...because he didn't have the money to pay for it.
Now about the "do what you have to do" crap. Here is a guy that doesn't have the money to pay for a root canal and a build-up but somehow he has money to retain an attorney. I don't think so.
And what attorney is going to take this case? "You had root tips that Dr. A took out. You need a root canal on the molar behind it. Now tell me again what you want to sue this dentist for?"
I don't think so.
This dentist has nothing to worry about. The only thing that has happened here is this patient has burnt a bridge to a passionate and caring dentist.
I wrote the above and then I got an email from a non-dentist reader and this is what they said....
I sort of agree with the non-dentist comment. When I read the story, all I could think was that the whole situation would have never become a problem if the dentist looked at the chart. I don’t think that the dentist did anything wrong, if fact, I’m sure he did everything right procedure-wise, but the confusion would have been resolved immediately if the chart was available.
Another main factor is whether or not the dentist gave any sort of admission that he may have pulled the wrong tooth when he met with the patient at that evening appointment after the procedure. If the dentist implied that he was anything less than 100% certain that he did the procedure correctly, then the patient is going to feel wronged. I know that is a heavy weight to put on medical professionals, but if a doctor or a dentists wavers for a even a second, patients worry.
To your point about this guy not being able to pay, I don’t know if he’s trying to necessarily get an upgrade in service, he may see this as the only real remedy to the problem. The way he sees it, he went into the initial procedure with the expectation that he would be missing only one tooth, so the solution to the situation should involve him missing only one tooth. I understand that clinically this is wrong, but that’s how patients (consumers) think. I also understand that the dentist didn’t actually pull the wrong tooth or do anything else wrong, but that’s not what the patient thinks. The patient seems like he doesn’t have the knowledge, or at this point the willingness, to understand the concepts of the original treatment plan. He just thinks the dentist messed up and is now backtracking to cover it up. A solution for the situation might have been for the dentist to charge the patient for the initial procedure (the tooth pull), because that is what the patient requested and expected to pay for, but then do the root canal and build up for free. I’m not a dentist so this could be really expensive, and ridiculous, way to make a patient happy.
Sorry, I hope you don’t think that I’m bashing the dentist or dentists in general, I’m just giving you an idea of how non-dental patients see this situation. I think patients turn into a-holes sometimes because they are frustrated by their lack of knowledge about oral health and hate that they have to just take someone’s word for it. It’s sort of like going to the mechanic when you don’t know anything about cars. It sucks that you can’t make an informed decision, because you don’t know anything.
One last thing. A lawyer may not have been what the patient was referring to when he said that he “will do what he needs to do”. Your friend might want to check Yelp.com or other service-rating sites. He may have left a nasty post on one of those. Yeah, it seems less scary than litigation, but it’s a lot easier to throw out a lawsuit than it is to get an nasty post off a rating website (see the cover story of the May Impact).
This person, dentist or not makes a very strong point. I am really confused because I think like a jaded dentist sometimes and forget to put on my consumer hat.
Any last thoughts?
Have a great weekend,