Friday - yeah baby!!!
You know that it is smack dab in the middle of hurricane season here. While there have been a couple of named storms this year, not one has even threatened Florida. But even without the threat of hurricanes, we do still get a lot of rain and thunderstorms.
Yesterday it rained. Not alot - just a late evening rain for about 40 minutes. What's the big deal, you ask? Well, it hasn't rained here in 32 days; it has been driest October on record. So, while it wasn't much, we will take it. I tell you about the weather because, even though it is not raining outside, it is pouring in my office.
I have to tell you that I usually am a free-flowing idea kind of guy, but lately my mind has been on only one thing. I didn't want to tell you because I am kind of embarrassed. Not embarrassed, more ashamed.
As you know, I pride myself on being a very good dentist and treating people with exceptional service. But this year has been kind of rough. I don't have too many issues with patients, but lately I have had a rash of them. I have put off telling you, but now I am just going to come out and say it.
A woman come into my office for her first visit. She had gone to an endodontist and she didn't get along with him. Every tooth in her mouth crowned. Now, five years after her full-mouth reconstruction, she has 4 abscesses in the lower anterior.
The endodontist had diagnosed everything and even sent me a letter. I turned on the charm when she got here, and everything went really well.
I told her I would do 2 pulpectomies the first time I saw her, put some calcium hydroxide in the canals, and let them sit for a month. Then she would come the second time and we would do the same thing on the second two teeth. She loved me and told me so. She said she didn't have any money, but paid in advance for 3 of the root canals.
She came for the first visit and it went well. I told her I would see her in a couple of weeks for the second appointment to do the second two pulpectomies.
The second day she came in with a bit of an edge. No big deal - I had work to do.
We started the second two pulps (the second one being a retreat). I want to preface this next part with some philosophy. Lower anteriors are usually easy to get an endo access. But when they have crowns it is a bigger deal to me. I try to make the access very small and I want to make sure I have proper perspective when doing so. This being said, I don't routinely put a rubber damn on for my accesses. I usually gain access, then put the rubber damn on. (You now know where this is going.)
I got access, no problem, in the normal tooth. It was the re-treatment tooth that was giving me trouble. The access was fine but I couldn't get a file down the tooth. The number 8 file kind of hit something and bent and didn't get down. It was the hitting and bending that would lead to what happened next.
The file bounced out of my hand and landed on her tongue. No big deal. I was going to pick it up and before I could move to get it she shot up in the chair. I thought she overreacted a bit, but she spit it out and gave it to me. She laid back down and we went on. I finished both procedures without further incident.
Two weeks later she was supposed to come back to finish the root canals on the first two. She calls 15 minutes before the procedure and says, "I am not coming back and you know why."
This was coming out of left field to me. She claims that she left a message on the machine here at work. I never got it. It seems that what she said on the machine was that that night after the last procedure she had to go to the emergency room. She claims that when she jumped up to remove the file from her mouth that she hurt her back and when she turned sideways she hurt her neck. And then she said she was calling me today to ask me what I planned to do about it.
She said that all this happened at my office and as a result of me dropping a file.
She said, "I don't have medical insurance and I have all these hospital bills that are piling up and I don't know what to do."
I just sat there on the phone and didn't say anything. I couldn't believe this was happening. It was stunned silence. All these things are running through my head. She is crazy. She is some woman that doesn't have insurance and is looking for a big pay out. And she kept asking me what I was going to do about it.
I told her I wasn't going to do anything. She, of course, says something like, "I am not that kind of person that sues people." Then went on to say, "If you don't do anything, I might have to get other people involved."
I said, "Do you what you have to do." I told her that I would get some council on this matter and get back with her.
I've had time to think about it, and I have to tell you, it STINKS. I mean, it really stinks. Yes, I dropped a file in her mouth. Yes, she jumped up. But I think it would be the same if someone slipped and fell in the reception room. I know what you are going to say about the file and a rubber damn but...
I really care about the fact that she got hurt here. I wish it didn't happen. Should I feel responsible?
But I just didn't get the best vibe from her and there are a few reasons why. She came in for her first appointment with her "husband" and he did all the talking. She came to the second appointment by herself and I asked her where her husband was. She said that they are divorced but still living together, and the reason they got divorced is that he beats her. I was starting to put all the pieces together. Now I am in the middle of this thing.
I called my insurance and they are as much help as you guys would be if I asked you.
They said, "If you can find out how much they want and just settle amongst the two of you then we don't have to get involved but if you decide you want to get us involved we will start crawling all over everyone."
So it is going to come down to: how much will it cost me to make this thing go away? I do want to stand behind principle. "You are crazy, and if you want any money from me then you are going to have to go through my people."
I called her back and have left 4 messages on her home voicemail. Her ex-husband finally answered the phone yesterday and said, "She is in bed. She has been in so much pain that she hasn't really gotten out of bed in the last three weeks."
COME ON. Really? He and I went back and forth and he promised to send me all the bills from their hospital visit. I told him that I would look at them and then we would talk.
Apparently when it rains, it pours, and my friends, at my office it is pouring. I am in a bad mood and it doesn't look like it is going to get any better any time soon.
Have a good weekend. If you can encourage me with a nice comment that would really help.
I am going to drink... a lot (the AGD doesn't condone drinking to deal with your problems, but I think it may help).