This article was originally printed in our Third Quarter 2022 issue of The Scope: Dental Edition. Read more articles from the publication here.
MLMIC receives a significant number of calls from policyholders and their office staff who are dealing with difficult patients. These calls can involve patients who are simply noncompliant, unruly patients and even family members who cause disruption in the office and threaten office staff. Our recent two-part series on effectively treating difficult patients provides more detailed guidance for each scenario.
We’ve provided a few examples of calls we’ve received. In every situation, MLMIC offered advice and was able to assist with resolving the situation appropriately. Below, read synopses of the calls and assistance provided.
- An elderly patient was accompanied by his spouse, and both had memory issues. The patient did not recall being treated the week prior, and the insured dentist had concerns about the patient not following through with pre-op medicine or post-op care instructions. As the patient’s HIPAA form included his daughter, she was contacted to alert her to the situation.
- A confrontational and noncompliant patient was offered a refund but never returned a general release. After 18 months without contact, the patient emailed the dentist seeking to complete treatment. MLMIC subsequently assisted with the release and discharge paperwork for this patient.
- A patient’s daughter wrote our insured a “strongly worded” and demanding letter. She was unhappy with her mother’s full mouth restoration, claiming significant emotional distress as well as pain and suffering. Because the daughter’s name was not on the HIPAA form, no information on the patient’s care and treatment could be discussed until the proper authorization was provided. Eventually, the appropriate authorization was provided, and the insured was able to resolve the situation to the satisfaction of the daughter and the patient.
- A disgruntled patient posed as a police officer and called the insured dentist on their private cellphone stating that there had been a break-in at the dentist’s office. When the dentist investigated to see what damage had been done, she realized that there had been no break-in, and that she was being harassed by a patient. After the dentist looked up the phone number used in the call and identified the patient, MLMIC assisted with advice and discharge paperwork.
- A patient’s sister came to the dentist’s office to confront him, as her brother had had teeth removed “unexpectedly” and had been threatening physical harm to the dentist. When advised that the dentist could not discuss her brother’s care with her, the sister caused a scene and started cursing and kicking the dentist, and the police were called. When the sister was being escorted out of the office, she claimed assault. Additional family members then arrived at the same time police arrived on site to defuse the situation.
When dentists encounter challenging situations like the examples above, it is important to remember that you do not have to handle it alone. MLMIC policyholders can contact a team of risk management professionals 24/7 at no additional cost by calling (844) MMS-LAW1 or emailing email@example.com.
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