Hello, hi, I would like to file a complaint.
Ok, can I have your name?
Yes, it’s George Clooney.
Hi, Mr. Clooney. What’s your dentist’s name?
It’s Dr. Clooney. I AM the dentist.
I am not sure I understand…
I want to file a complaint. I AM the dentist.
Ahhh… you want to file a complaint against yourself?
NO! I want to file a complaint against my patient.
Yes, my patient has been very rude and abusive and I want to file a complaint.
But this is the _________. We are here to protect the public.
Yes, and I AM the public. I am a dentist, who is being mistreated by their patient.
Ahhh… that’s not how this works.
So how does it work? The patients call you to file complaints. We then go through hell, and when found “not guilty”, there is nothing we can do to fight back. Legally, we can’t file a claim to recover our costs, our energy, our stress. So when a patient abuses us, where can we turn?
Ahhh… not sure what you mean?
Where can we turn to, call, file a complaint, when our patient is the negligent one?
It doesn’t work that way.
Why not? All I want is to file a complaint the way they file complaints. Or do a google review. Where do I do that? I want to review my patient. I want to give them a one-star for their behaviour since we all know google will never take it down and there is nothing they can do about it. That’s what they do to us, so how can I do that to one of them?
Ahhh… I think you have the wrong number?
Ok so what is the right number to call to complain about a patient?
I had a woman spaz out on me today. In fact, she first did that a few months ago to one of my staff. Then today, she did it again to my awesome administrator. She tore a strip off her, for at least 5 separate phonecalls, only to email me, demanding something I could not deliver. I had spoken to her 6 times through zoom meetings in the last couple of months. I have summarized my treatment recommendations, put them into an 8 page document with photos, and options, risks, benefits, consequences, costs, etc. But she keeps calling to have “just one more zoom call”. But after 5 of these phonecalls, and she is rude and aggressive in each one, I email her that there will be an additional fee to do yet another zoom consult. I mean, enough is enough. How many times can we be forced to say the same thing over and over again, put it into document with pictures, treatment options, risks, benefits and consequences, and costs outlined clearly, but she still wants to “talk” about it again. Would they consider it negligent if I don’t have yet another free consult? After all, the patient still has questions…. But how many questions are we expected to answer? How many times? They are the same questions over and over. So I make a decision to stop being treated like a doormat. And yes, there will be a fee associated with my time after these many conversations.
So she freaks out. 7 emails directed to me now, within a time span of 18 minutes, and all rude and belligerent. If I behaved like that to a patient, I would be hanging on a rope off a tree somewhere, blasted across the dental world, shamed, reprimanded, punished severely. So why can’t we turn it around? Why can’t we file a complaint against a patient?
There is no platform, there is no protection for us, dentists. We are abused and reprimanded daily, shamed for a one-off mistake, yet when the patient freaks out, we can’t win. Might as well bend over…
NO! That’s not okay. When will there be an organization that helps us; that supports us in these tough situations? Don’t hold your breath… But until then, here is what I did…
When these emails came through, I was with another patient and didn’t see them right away. And she sent 7 of them and because I didn’t reply, she assumed that I was “blowing her off” and kept going. She wrote that if I don’t respond, she will “file a complaint with” my “association”. This time, I have to laugh a bit. I know, usually this would make me concerned. But this time, I have to chuckle. File a complaint for what? What did I do this time? I simply didn’t check my emails fast enough for her liking. So instead of answering her rants, I choose to ignore them all night. I will respond tomorrow. But in the meantime, I am sitting there in awe of what I am reading and I really think I have to do something with what I am feeling. And for whatever reason, the theme song to a show from the 80s called the “Love Boat” pops into my head. So I decide to make a “Love Board” while singing: Love Board, love exciting and new. Come aboard, we’re expecting you… I print all her crazy emails, one by one, then cut them into cute shapes. One is a heart, then there is a cloud, a star, and a lightning bolt. All the shapes are then pasted onto a big post-it, and I draw a tree and tree branches and hang each note off a branch. I draw leaves, and flowers and little hearts everywhere, and from a distance, it looks like a beautiful tree with lots of little notes growing on it. From a distance. And I post it at the office, so when my team comes in the morning, that’s the first thing they will see. And instead of dreading another call or email from this w