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    Dear Dental Patient...

    What would you tell your patients if you could let them know how you really feel?

    Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell your patients what you really wanted from them? You know what I am talking about: The thing that is burning up inside of you, that drives you nuts whenever “that” patient is in your office?

    Imagine what you would say, if you could finally get it off your chest…

    Dear Patient,

    You have been coming to me for more years than I can count. I feel that we should be able to communicate quite openly about how to improve our relationship. First let me say, I am very grateful for the referrals you have given me through the years. Not only have you been with me since high school, but your fiancé and your extended family joined our dental practice as well. I was fortunate to become your children’s dentist and got to watch them grow up. It truly has been an honor to treat all of you for all these years.

    However….

    There are two issues that must be addressed immediately. Let’s start with scheduling. I get it. When you are taking PTO, you don't want to waste it sitting in my waiting room. We run late at times, possibly because the patients before you ran late or their appointment took longer than expected. I apologize for this. But, on your recent visit, we had to prioritize a patient who was in horrific pain before your appointment. We were late and you were fuming. Yelling at my staff for being compassionate is not acceptable. They apologized for the inconvenience, but bringing them to tears was not necessary. I support my staff and the decisions they make. If you were the patient in excruciating pain, I would do the same for you.  Emergencies will always change the schedule, and they should.

    More from the author: The top 8 worst types of patients in the waiting room

    What I can promise to you is that we will try to reach you as early as possible when something like this happens. You will have the option to reschedule or to coordinate with us so that your PTO isn't wasted. I am truly sorry that this happened and will try to fix this problem for the future on my end. But, you must do your part and be more understanding.

    Another issue is billing. This is a touchy subject, but please pay your bill at the time of service. Obviously, that can't be done if you have dental insurance, but I am trying to keep the costs of running a practice down. If I didn't have to send out bills and chase down payments, it would greatly help how smoothly this practice runs. If paying the bill is a problem, let us know. I want to help you to get what you need: good dental care. But, this is a business. I am under tremendous pressure to pay bills and get paychecks out. We are happy to arrange a payment plan, but the key is for you to talk to us about it. If you ignore the bill, it will eventually go to collections. We are trying to help you, but you must show me the same kind of respect I show you. In this transactional relationship we have, I will take care of your dental health, and you will take care of your bill.

    Trending article: The top five types of things patients hate but don't want to tell you

    I hire the most qualified professionals to provide excellent care for our patients. Please look at how you treat my staff and show them the respect they deserve. We want you to be happy. But ,if you continue to upset my staff, you should probably find another dental practice to go to.  My wish is that you can see how working with the team benefits all of us. If you would like to discuss this further, let me know.

    Again, thank you for allowing me to take care of you. I look forward to this being a resolved issue that never needs be revisited.

    Sincerely,

    Frustrated dentists, hygienists, oral surgeons and dental specialists

    I realize that I was a bit tame on the frustration and hostility in this letter that you may feel about your patients. But, the point is to allow safe venting of this issue. Post this article on the wall in your waiting room. Allow the patients to look at what their own behavior is screaming. If you have any stories you would like to share about this issue, email [email protected] .

     

    Lisa Newburger, LISW-S
    Lisa Newburger, a master's level social worker supervisor, helps audiences find humor in talking about tough topics. Her "in-your-face" ...

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