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The bad side to the business of dentistry

11 July 2014
A patient refusing to pay is often an issue that requires more careful attention than threatening legal action against them, as this case demonstrates...

A dentist sent a letter to a patient demanding payment of an account which was overdue by one month. The patient had ignored a previous request but had also indicated, by telephone to the practice manager, that she was unhappy with treatment. 

The dentist, who was of the view that his treatment was beyond criticism, considered this to be a delaying tactic on the part of the patient. He advised the patient through the practice manager that she would be taken to court within seven days and refused to talk to the patient about her concerns unless and until the debt was cleared. A summons was issued in a Small Claims Court.

The patient counter-claimed for damages and also complained to the dentist’s registration body. Subsequently, the dentist was reprimanded for failing to deal with a patient complaint. In addition, the claim had to be settled following an expert report which proved critical of the standard of care.

Learning point:
Disputes may have little, if anything, to do with patient care but are often purely a function of the business arrangement between the parties involved.
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