Do any of you watch “The Bachelorette?” I never seen an episode before, but right now I am hanging out in a modest hotel room on a Community Dental Outreach rotation and of the thirty-five channels available, it seems like the lesser of all evils. All I can think is how unbelievably awkward it is watching her try to force a relationship with each of the guys. I can’t help but wonder if this is what my assistants experience while watching me work with a new patient for the first time. I’m tempted to hide a camera in the operatory to see how bad it is. But I digress…
“Do you want to be in the room?” Those were the first words out of the veterinary technician’s mouth when my future sister-in-law called the office to inquire about euthanasia for her aging Llewellin setter that they had saved several years before.
She was emotional and confused, and didn’t know if she wanted to be in the room. “Well, you need to know it’s $65 extra to be in the room while they do it,” the voice explained (this was in addition to the $300 base fee for the procedure). Needless to say, she found another office to help in this tough time.
There are undoubtedly good reasons for this veterinarian to charge the additional fee, but Laura felt like she was being taken advantage of while she was most vulnerable. When I heard this story, I couldn’t ignore the parallels to dentistry. The next time a potential patient calls with an emergency, how can you help him realize your office truly cares? We work hard and deserve to be compensated accordingly, but we also need to think about how our billing policies will be perceived by our patients. No one wants to feel nickeled-and-dimed!