Patient Complaints

Guidelines for Practice Success | Managing Patients | Patient Relations

While patients generally have a high regard for health care practitioners, especially dentists, all dentists have dissatisfied patients at some point in their career. How you handle this type of situation can strengthen a relationship or indicate that it’s time to part ways.

  • Remember that a patient complaint does not indicate that you’re a bad dentist or that your ability to care for patients is lacking. Typically, patient complaints result from a breakdown in or lack of communication.
  • Problems can occur even in the best dentist-patient relationship. When that happens, be open and willing to discuss the patient’s complaints or concerns. That genuine dialogue is often all it takes to clear up the matter.
  • Patients with complaints usually want the opportunity to be heard, to let off steam, or to get an explanation for why something happened. Maybe they just want an apology, or some type of remedial action and redress that seems appropriate to them. Sometimes they just want to be acknowledged and taken seriously, to be given enough time to fully explain their concern, and to feel as though they’re being dealt with honestly and with complete attention.
  • Research has found that dentists with the fewest complaints spend more time with each patient at each visit, get to know their patients well, listen actively, maintain a warm and friendly atmosphere, and are humorous, with a warm personality.