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Doctor consistently comes in excessively late for exams. What to do?

We have three RDH’s who have all individually and collectivly discussed with the owner/dentist how long the associate dentist makes us wait for exams. We have had countless meetings and suggestions as to how to help make him aware how long a pt has waited. After a 10 year old waited 30 minutes for an exam the other day I am at my wits end, he is making me hate my job which otherwise is fabulous. Any ideas to share?

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1 Answer

It’s unfortunate that this associate dentist values only his time and literally no one else’s. Once in a while, I can see, but consistently is absurd in my opinion. Maybe you should tell this dentist that you are ready for an exam right when you seat your patient. If he doesn’t like coming in before treatment is completed that’s a choice he made for himself by not coming in in a timely manner afterward. However, this could make the problem worse because then the dentist would really wait longer to come in. Ultimately, the owner/dentist needs to step up in enforcing timely exams and office protocols. The owner is the boss and what he/she says goes. I bet other employees abide by set protocols, so why shouldn’t this associate dentist? You probably have addressed it, but the owner/dentist needs to realize that a patient isn’t going to tolerate this every time they come to the office. Personally, if this happened consistently at a medical or dental office I went to, I wouldn’t return. And its not just affecting that particular patient, it affects the patients afterward who showed up on time, but are seen late because of this associate. So there’s a chance of losing a lot of patients here. Suggestion cards for the patient to fill out that include questions like “Were you seen in a timely manner by the dentist?” and “Would you suggest our office to a friend based on your experience today? Why or why not?” may get the point across to the owner/dentist that money is being left on the table because of this problem not being addressed properly. Another option, if the associate doesn’t come in in a timely manner, is dismissing the patients without an exam. I really don’t even like suggesting this, but if the office starts losing money maybe the owner/dentist will step up as they should. Now, I must say that when doing this depends on when the patient’s last exam was (like in the last year) according to your state’s dental practice act as to stay within the law. I also don’t like suggesting this because besides the office losing money, it is simply not quality care for the patient – and does the owner want to be known for providing sub-par care? Probably not. This has got to be so frustrating, but the blame falls on both the owner/dentist and the associate here. And there’s no good answer besides the owner/dentist putting his/her foot down and “laying down the law.”

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