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Confront Dr. on poor work quality.

In the last 6 months us hygienists have been finding decay under fillings done less than a year ago. There was also a case where the fillings were done but comparing the old BW and new one the Dr. completely missed the decay. Our Dr. has been practicing for over 8 years so we can’t say this is anything to do with being new. We have set up a time to have a meeting to discuss this with him, but none of us know how to bring it up. How do you tell your boss that he isn’t doing quality work? He also doesn’t have good chair side manner. He is very sarcastic and rude. We have lost some patients due to that and we are worried that we will lose more with the trouble we are having now with the poor fillings. Its getting to the point where none of us want to refer family or friends to our office.

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1 Answer

This is a tough one! I applaud you for taking the first step and setting up a meeting with the doctor.
To begin with, identify what drives your doctor. For example, if he talks about quality patient care, impressing others, or if he has a focus on production, let this guide your conversation. Speak to him in a way that he can identify with; adapt to him. This is how to make the conversation stick. Put yourself in his shoes and think of how he needs to hear your concerns to understand. Before speaking to him, anticipate the doctor’s “comebacks.” If you think you know what he is going to say, truly think out what you will say back if he says such and such. Be prepared with examples.
Sandwich the conversation. Start positively, lead to the concerns, and then end positively.
I would begin the conversation with things that are going well in the office. Housekeeping-type topics that are positive to warm up the conversation. I would then lead into asking him if everything was okay with him (by okay I mean physically, emotionally, etc.) because over the last 6 months (or year) you’ve noticed a change. This is in an effort to find a reason for his work going downhill and having a bit of an attitude, but also to show true concern.
Then you need to voice your concerns, remembering to do this in a way that identifies with him personally. Use examples here.
I would end by saying that you are bringing these concerns to him because we all love this office (if that’s honestly true) and want to see it thrive to highest success it can. We respect you and the practice you have built and we want to make sure you are okay. I might also mention that if he ever had any concerns with you, you would want you to come you too. Offer solutions – would you like us to identify suspicious areas before you begin an exam? Together you will want to come up with these solutions in a way that resonates with him. For example, if he is production-focused, explain how production will suffer if patients have to come back and have restoration re-done at no charge using up appointment time for patients bringing in production.
Most of all, take the high-road and stay professional. Obvious – but it’s so easy to get frustrated and let it show. Remember this is a conversation not a confrontation. Now I have to be honest, if his personality is sarcastic and rude, that tells me that he’s somebody who has the potential to get defensive. This is something to really think about because there is the possibility you could face a backlash. However, if you all approach him together he will hopefully realize there’s a real concern and that you want to help.
I wish you the very best of luck in dealing with this difficult situation!

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