Almost two thirds (65%) of patients aren’t aware dentists are required to provide a formal process for managing complaints.
That’s according to a new survey from Dental Protection, which also found that 16% of patients would consider complaining to the GDC about treatment they’ve received.
Dental Protection has encouraged dentists to display their complaints procedure to nip any problems in the bud, before they become more serious.
‘There is often a very small window of opportunity to nip complaints in the bud and dealing with them promptly, within the practice, is often the most effective way of doing this,’ Dr Raj Rattan, dental director at Dental Protection, said.
‘Dentists have an obligation to provide a formal written process for resolving complaints, so every team member knows what to do, and they should ensure patients are also aware of the process.
‘While understanding and managing patients’ expectations before commencing treatment is key to avoiding complaints from occurring in the first place, it is just as important that dentists know how to manage a complaint effectively when one is received.
‘This again will help to prevent it escalating.’
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Half of the patients surveyed said they would expect an apology if their treatment didn’t go as expected.
Most patients (74%) said they would expect the dentist to offer further treatment free of charge to fix the problem, if treatment hadn’t gone as expected.
Whilst 36% said they would expect the dentist to refer them to somebody else to fix the issue.
‘Interestingly when Dental Protection asked over 1,000 of its members the same question, only 27% thought patients would expect an apology,’ Raj continued.
‘We would always encourage dentists to apologise if treatment does not go as expected.
‘This is not the same as an admission of fault or liability, and should be offered at the earliest opportunity.
‘Dentists should then discuss further treatment options with the patient to ensure that any issues can be resolved in the practice.
‘There will always be patients who are dissatisfied with their treatment, or whose expectations are not met.
‘Grasping the opportunity to resolve complaints at an early stage within the practice reduces the likelihood that the patient will raise the issue outside of the practice.’