Avoiding complaints – a guide for practice managers

Avoiding complaints – a guide for practice managers

Julian Perry shares some helpful tips for preventing complaints against practice managers, nurses and receptionists.

Since the return to work from COVID we have seen a substantial number of complaints, most of which have been born out of frustration by patients at the lack of access. What we have seen in addition to this is a significant number of complaints against practices and practice staff who are simply trying to manage the backlog of patients.

Frustration has led to arguments over appointment times, lack of access, lack of clinician availability, the request for the need for ‘after hours’ appointments, delays in completing work, the inability to get seen when in pain or when a provisional restoration may have failed.

All good reasons, but none of them caused by your team!

At Densura we have helped practice managers (PM) and their teams in situations where the complainant has singled out a PM, nurse or receptionist. We take the stress out of this for you. We have your back. Things are starting to settle down a little now but here are a few suggestions which may help.

1. Speak softly

When the patient starts to get angry and shout, speak softly quietly and slowly and express the fact that you are ‘sorry’ that they are having difficulty. Remember, sorry does not imply liability, it simply means that you have empathy. People find it very difficult to stay ‘shouty’ and angry when the person they are shouting at does not fire back. Difficult, I know as you’ve done nothing wrong, but that’s not the point (sadly)!

2. Offer the next available appointment

Do not do as one receptionist did and offer an appointment four months from the original date even though there were appointments available three weeks later because they wanted to ‘teach the patient a lesson’. That never works and when it gets reviewed that action is indefensible.

3. Pain relief

If the request is pain relief get the patient in by any means possible. If you’ve ever had dental pain, you will know it is complete agony. Pain can be relieved by an experienced dentist in 15 to 20 minutes in 90% of cases. Put the patient in pain in as a priority. You know you would want the same for any member of your family.

4. Collaboration

Get together with the whole team and discuss challenging cases. It matters not if another dentist sees the patient in pain if the regular clinician is not available. Pain is pain – treat it.

5. Keep patients informed

Updates help. Notifying patients if there has been a cancellation. If they decline it for whatever reason (work or ‘other’) note this down. The record may well be important later.

6. Keep notes

Always record conversation in the notes. The notes on the computer are not just for clinical treatment, they are for all interactions. They are important if you later need to rely on them to recall a conversation.

In summary

  • Be helpful
  • Have empathy
  • Be understanding
  • Be professional
  • Write everything in your notes.

And if all that fails, call Densura. We will have your back and we will take the pressure from you. That’s what we do. We are like the dental equivalent of the fourth emergency service – here when you really need us.

For more information, visit www.densura.com or call 02079330343.

This article is sponsored by Densura.

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