Ignoring a letter of complaint is the worst way to deal with it. As this case shows, prompt and respectful action is the way to go...
A dentist carrying out a course of treatment for a patient changed the treatment plan on several occasions. On leaving the practice, the patient always stopped at the reception desk to book the next appointment. He was surprised to be given a new bill on each visit.
On his last visit, he refused to pay and wrote a letter of complaint. The practitioner countered this by not replying. He chose not to use the practice complaints procedure, but instead sent a final demand to the patient four weeks later.
The patient went to his national funding authority, which in turn wrote to the practitioner asking him to deal with the matter under his in-house complaints procedure. The practitioner in turn consulted Dental Protection.
A letter was drafted, regretting and apologising for the lack of communication during the treatment and explaining the reason for the changes in treatment and the consequent revision of the costs. An assurance that the practitioner was reviewing his complaints procedures to keep patients informed and an overall apology to the patient for the delay clearly worked, as the outstanding amount was forwarded by return.
In addition, a short letter was drafted to the funding authority confirming that the dentist would in future respond promptly to any complaints.
Learning point: These case studies are based on real events and provided here as guidance. They do not constitute legal advice but are published to help members better understand how they might deal with certain situations. This is just one of the many benefits dental members enjoy as part of their subscription. For more detailed advice on any issues, contact us.
Although it may seem irksome, replying to complaints swiftly and sympathetically is certainly worth doing and is always advisable