Well, I have been a bad little blogger. I have been busy and out of fresh ideas lately. I guess it is that thing they call “writer’s block.”
I have been lovin’ the football season. I have been pleasantly surprised by what the Gators have been doing this year. Seeing the Seminoles choke to NC State and then the Bulldogs get their tails spanked by old coach Steve Spurrier was fun.
My house has been full of sick people lately. Two kids and the wife with fever, cough, etc. Just picture the scene from the movie Outbreak when they walk into a room and everyone is lying around moaning and acting like death warmed over. I had to have a repairman over to the house, and he nearly went running out of the house in fear for his life. Everyone is better now, thank goodness.
A new patient came in. Let’s call him Frank. He came in for a second opinion on a crown that was done at another office. You know the tone of voice and certain words they say when they are unhappy and blame the other dentist for something. I always tread lightly with these situations, especially if I know the previous dentist has a good reputation and does good work. I addressed his issue and he seemed happy. He asked how he could get established and get a cleaning. I informed him that the front desk would be more than happy to assist him with his request.
We have a new patient policy. At our office all adult patients must see the doctor first for a comprehensive exam and proper diagnostic radiographs. We typically like a full mouth series, unless we suspect third molar issues (then it is a panograph and bite wings). According to Florida state law, prior to being seen by a hygienist, a patient must have an exam by the dentist to authorize by indirect supervision prophylaxis or other hygiene services. As a military man, I follow the rules. I know many offices let new patients schedule right into hygiene. But from my understanding, this is not allowed.
What is not very clear in Florida dental law is the requirement for radiographs. It is a grey area. What it says and how all the attorneys I have spoken with interpret it can vary. The attorneys say that the Florida Board of Dentistry and Florida law do not strictly mandate the need for radiographs, however, it is viewed as normal and customary to have radiographs to review as part of a thorough and complete exam. It is a general liability issue as well. So, in a few words, the law says, “You need to take darn x-rays!”
A few weeks had gone by when one of our hygienists noticed Frank on my schedule and on her schedule immediately after for a prophylaxis. The note in the appointment stated that the patient did not want any x-rays. My hygienist knew this would not go over well with me. She called the patient several hours prior to the appointment to inform him that radiographs would be needed.
Boom! Frank exploded, ranting about how he should not have to take x-rays and his other dentist did not take x-rays. He asked why we would need to take them, and my staff told him it is required by law; he called us liars and asked if we were saying his other dentist was breaking the law. [No, but maybe he wasn’t very thorough if he never consulted radiographs]. Frank went on to say that if we would not give him a cleaning without x-rays, then he use the internet and tell everyone that we “suck.” Then he hung up.
My office manager called him back to try to explain again. She offered to fax over a position paper from the Board of Dentistry that explains why x-rays are needed. Frank would not hear anything about it. Instead, he just went on and on. The office manager listened patiently before she asked, “Sir, can I say one last thing?” She told him that we are sorry we cannot help him, but if we discover that his making or writing libelous or slanderous statements about our office, he would be held responsible. Goodbye!”
Today, a discharge letter and the position paper info sheet on radiographs are being sent to Frank.
How else do you deal with this type of character? I know there is no way I want to treat this person after this encounter. We strive to meet people’s needs and desires, but this was a no-win situation. What else could we have done? I know my staff is not rude or hostile to patients. I just do not see how this could have been avoided. Any ideas?
Have a good week,