Thursday Troubleshooter: Should team report dentist's incompetence?
Patients are leaving dental practice in droves
QUESTION: Our office has a dilemma. The dentist we work for is doing inferior work. The hygienists are reluctant to recommend any work to patients knowing the quality will be poor. The patients are not happy and some have left. Those that stay and have work done have poor quality fillings, ill-fitting crowns, and are always coming back because a filling fell out or broke. This happens sometimes even within hours or days of having the work done. The dentist is 50-years-old and we know he has poor eyesight (which he was supposed to have corrected) and we have yet to see a change. We have addressed these issues with him numerous times and have stated our concerns, but it doesn't seem to change anything. We know we need to do something but we’re afraid we might lose our jobs. Do we legally have an obligation to report him, and if so, to who? Please help!
ANSWER FROM ADELE REISCHE, Synergy Practice Management:
If staff members have a suspicion or belief that their doctor is endangering patients or performing work that poses a possible threat to their health, they are obligated to act or risk losing their own license.
My suggestion is to contact the director or president of the local dental society and identify, then notify, the Peer Review Officer. By doing so they have taken action and turned the problem over to a recognized clinical authority who will know what corrective action, if any, should be taken.
ANSWER FROM MARGARET McINTYRE,M. McIntyre & Associates:
While the staff concern is appreciated, they must ask themselves at what point is the doctor a liability to his patients, his staff, and himself. They must take action.
A conversation between the doctor and staff should be scheduled, and it should be the same as the doctor conducting a staff review. This conversation should be documented in writing by more than one staff member. They should document their concerns and detail the patients who have either complained or left the practice, and for what reasons.
When speaking to the doctor, staff members should give time guidelines regarding when they would like to see appropriate changes made. If these cannot be met, they may need to warn the dentist that they may have to take their concerns to the state board of dentistry.
Is the doctor a member of a particular study group? Does he have a close relationship to one particular colleague? Perhaps staff members could speak to that doctor and voice their concerns in the hope that this doctor could intervene and help the floundering dentist.
My other suggestion would be for the staff members to have another meeting with the doctor and mention that they are prepared to block his schedule for a certain number of days so that he can have his necessary surgery. They will find another doctor to come in and see his patients during his absence. They’ll need to assure him that they are committed to scheduling a full day of patients and reaching or surpassing their daily production/collection goals.
This team should be commended for looking out for the overall success of the practice and the health of the doctor.
PAST THURSDAY TROUBLESHOOTERS:
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