QUESTION: We have a patient who is deaf and middle aged. He has an extremely bad body odor problem and the whole office fills up with the bad odor when he arrives, so you can imagine what the hygenist has to tolerate while treating him. Is there a delicate way to handle this? He lives with a sister, and I just don't know if this is something we can even bring up without being offensive. Thank you.
ANSWER FROM LINDA MILES, advisor, consultant, and founder of Speaking Consulting Network:
This is a very difficult situation for sure. I would say to invite the sister to come in for a consult regarding her brother's dental condition. Let her know that your hygienist has a very sensitive sense of smell to perfumes, after shave lotions, and body odors. Ask her to have him shower before all of his dental appointments. If the sister is offended, they will find another practice. There is no easy answer to this, but I feel open communication is the only solution.
ANSWER FROM LOIS BANTA, CEO of Speaking Consulting Network:
I would mention the issue to the sister. I suggest saying: "Is your brother aware of his body odor? Perhaps you could ask him to shower before he visits our office." Also, there are great odor absorbing plugins available that you could place in the operatory. Another idea is that you could see this patient after hours. This of course doesn't keep the odor away from the dental professionals who work there, but it saves other patients from having to suffer through the odor.
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