Monday, July 19, 2010

He said, she said

Quick write-up today. My mind is on other things, and not a lot is happening that is "blog-worthy" in my life right now.

Question: How do you deal with subtle sexual harassment by a patient?

I don't have an answer, but here is the backstory. Last week, one of my hygienists came up to me after dismissing a patient and walked me through the appointment experience (this was a perio maintenance visit so I didn't see the patient).

Apparently, this male patient, who we had seen multiple times with no issues, spent the entire appointment commenting on "how good [my hygienist] looked" and then some double-entendre dental phrases such as "you are making me salivate," etc. She also said he seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to read her nametag. She did say that nothing was overt and, having worked on him before, she had never had that experience with him. She was concerned she might be overreacting... Who knows? Again, I wasn't in the room and didn't hear any of it.

I reminded her, and the rest of my staff, of my policy that if any of them ever feel threatened or uncomforatble with a patient they are to get me involved - even if I am not scheduled to see that patient. I also made sure we flagged to not ever schedule that patient on a day when I am not in the office (not that I routinely do that anyway but in Kansas you can have certain hygiene visits completed without me being in the office).

Anything more overt and I would have excused the patient and "fired" him. It's the first time this sort of thing has come up and I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts on what they would do in this situation

Have a great week!


4 comments: said...

I'm not sure what's required legally, but you could consider putting up a sign stating that visitors to the premises could be recorded which would give you the option of having a hidden audio or video recorder on the patient next time.

That's a tough spot to be in, that's for sure. said...

This isn't meant as a comment, I couldn't find a contact form.


If you've got nothing else to blog about, I would love to hear what you've got for someone considering going into dentistry.

I have a BS in Information Technology and like my jobs just fine. I am ready to go back to school for either a masters degree in IT or a DDS.

I'm not sure how to compare the two.

Earnings wise, dentists make more than IT professionals but we're doing fine financially even now, with no shortage of work opportunities.

Work schedule wise dentistry has a reputation of being 40 hours a week and that's it. I would want to eventually have my own office though and my dad runs his own business so I know better than to expect that.

Work location could be more flexible with dentistry. My wife and I would like to live in a smaller city than Minneapolis, where we live now. IT jobs that would use a masters degree are largely found in big cities, but even small towns in northern MN have dentist offices.

Dentistry might be more varied than IT. I currently spend a ton of time in front of a computer with limited non-digital human interaction.

It's not that I think I would love working in people's mouths, but I do think I could do a good job at it. From following several dental blogs over the last 2-3 months it seems like the work is highly technical but with enough problem solving and artistic judgment to make it interesting.

I think my real problem with committing to getting a DDS is that while I feel inclined to do it, I don't have a solid "here's why I want to be a dentist" type statement. It's more of a "hey, this seems like a reasonable choice" situation. Is this a bad way to get into dentistry?

Michael from Minnesota

Suzan said...

Is video going to treat the cause or the symptom? Is this not the behaviour (Canadian spelling) symptomatic of the absence of relationship which usually infers respect? Seems to me the more we're viewed as "mechanics" rather than people with values, because people don't know us nor we them, we're more likely to get free wheeling behaviours. If we truly were in relationship, then could we not call on the offender to explain the meaning, or at the least voice our concerns. Carefronted, spoken in terms of mutual respect for example, the behaviour would likely stop or perhaps they would fire themselves.

Exceptional service doesn't mean suck it up!

jamie said...

to "micheal from minnesota":
to answer your very last question, this is a TERRIBLE way to approach dentistry! i'm a dentist with 10 years experience, and this is exactly how i did it...i didn't do my homework on the profession, didn't talk to dentists, didn't shadow anyone, and didn't research it at all...BIG MISTAKE! talk to dentists and realize what you are getting into. the good, bad and the ugly. dentistry is a great profession, with lifestyle opportunities second to none, with great income potential. it also has a reputation for burning-out a lot of people (myself included) if you are not prepared for the specific pressures and responsibilities. research like crazy, and get in for the right reasons. it can be incredibly rewarding and afford a great life, but you have to know what you're getting into. trust me!



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