With 26 years of practice under my belt, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is when to NOT treat a patient. Just ten days ago, I blogged about a very nice new patient: You Had Me at Hello. With a more recent patient, it was “You lost me at hello.” Sort of. It was really at “good bye.”
As a group, dentists tend to take on all comers. We want to treat everyone… probably for a couple of reasons. First, many of us want everyone to like us. Everyone should like me, right? Just ask my mom! Who wouldn’t like you? Well, as we get older, we learn not everyone will like us. Even better, as we get older, we learn not to care that not everyone will like us.
Secondly, I submit that most dentists will take on all comers, because he or she simply wants the income. If we’re honest, we are all driven by the desire to make money. Nothing wrong with that…. Who works for free? But, when that desire supersedes all other factors, we can get into trouble.
Listen to that little voice!
I’ve only been “sued” once. It never went to court. It was settled by my insurance company. The dental issue isn’t really relevant (though it was minor). What IS relevant is that I KNEW I shouldn’t have treated the patient. I KNEW IT! I actually dismissed her before beginning treatment because of the red flags she was waving in my face. She had already written a (big) check for the treatment plan in full, and I sent it back to her. But, then she came back, crying and begging me to treat her. She went on about how I was “the best,” and that she only wanted ME to treat her. And, I caved. Big mistake. Lesson learned.
The dissatisfied patient.
A few weeks ago, I met a new patient who was in distress after her experience at a “McDentist” corporate office. She had a 3-unit bridge prepped and temped. The teeth were hurting her and her jaw was sore. She wasn’t happy, and she was adamant about not going back to that office. Continue reading
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