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SRP gone wrong

I recently did SRP on a new patient who had seen the other hygienist for her first appt. I did SRP on the LR and LL (which I don’t agree with numbing the whole tongue, but that’s another topic). The chart notes warned that this patient had high anxiety about coming to the dentist and hadn’t been for a number of years. I went to give her local anesthetic and she cried as soon as I stuck the needle in. Admittedly, I HATE giving injections to begin with, especially on someone I know has anxiety. I decided to have the dentist come in and give her the injections since she was clearly worked up. I thought the rest of the appt went well. She returned again to have scaling done on the UR and UL with the other hygienist. At this appt she told her I was “rough with the injections” and I was “drowning her” when I was using the cavitron. This resulted in me being pulled aside by the Dr and told this information. He also told me I’m not allowed to hang the suction in the patient’s mouth (how does one cavitron the lower anterior linguals with a mirror and suction and cavitron tip???) I feel defeated and embarrassed. To top it off, I see she is back in my schedule for her 3 month recall and I really don’t care to see her. Help!

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1 Answer

I completely understand why you may feel defeated and embarrassed, however, please remember you can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try! Some people, especially when they are highly anxious, can find anything to complain about. I’m sure you know the type.
As far as the doctor telling you the suction cannot be hung from a patient’s mouth, is he going to provide you with an assistant to suction for you or provide you with a hands-free suction device? One thing you can do is allow the patient to hold the suction themselves. This may also give the patient the feeling of some sort of control, which might ease their anxiety a bit. Otherwise, you simply cannot grow a third arm!
Though you said it’s another topic, especially for a patient with high anxiety, it may have been better to treat the UR and LR together, then the UL and LL. Oftentimes, patients don’t do well with their entire mandible anesthetized, which might have led to this patients complaints. It feels like swallowing is impaired and for an already anxious patient, this could lead to “feeling like they were drowning.” I realize I’m preaching to the choir! Perhaps you should speak with the doctor and ask that when treatment planning, doing the right then left side, instead of the lower then upper, be implemented for patient comfort.
Lastly, it might be best if this patient is scheduled with the other hygienist for her recalls. You are lucky enough to have multiple hygienists in your office, so use that to your (and the patient’s) advantage. This might be another topic to discuss with your doctor, again, for the patient’s comfort.
Again, I know it’s easier said than done, but please don’t feel defeated or embarrassed! Being a “people-pleaser” is hard especially when, no matter what, not all can be pleased. I encourage you to have a chat with your doctor, not in a complaining way, but in a concern for patient comfort way, to avoid this in the future.

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