The Dental Complaints Resolution Service has issued its second annual report in which it give details of the 130 complaints it dealt with in 2013.
The DCRS said 28 of the complaints it received were resolved during 2013 and 16 of the remaining 102 cases have been resolved or are nearing resolution. On average these cases were resolved within two months.
Most complaints concerned the standard of work, failure to explain treatment costs, problems with continuing care and failure to address pain.
The DCRS is a voluntary service which offers an independent and free mediator service to patients who have complaints about their dentists. The initiative is supported by the Irish Dental Association but operates independently of it.
In most cases the resolution involved a refund of fees, an apology or retreatment at no extra cost.
The Service said it will be unable to resolve a dozen or so cases and these are likely to be referred to solicitors. It rejected six complaints – two were anonymous and four originated outside the Republic of Ireland.
Michael Kilcoyne, who is the Vice Chair of the Consumers Association and the facilitator of the DCRS said the fact the Service had become widely accepted by patients and dentists alike during 2013 was a very welcome development.
“It is heartening to see the growing acceptance of the Service. Overall we received over 1,200 e mails and letters and more than 262 phone calls. While this may seem a lot it should be remembered that two million Irish people visit their dentist every year.
“Communication failures remain the main cause of disputes. If the patient and dentist communicated clearly with each other about an issue it would reduce the amount of complaints made by about 40%. Dentists need to keep patients informed of the treatment plan and to deal with complaints promptly. Some of the most difficult cases that can arise involve veneers crowns and bridges” he said.
Mr Kilcoyne also expressed concern about the regulations regarding companies which fit out a premises as a dental practice and then let them out to dentists.
“There certainly needs to be tighter regulation of these kinds of businesses and they need to be liable in some way if the practicing dentist carries out work of a sub-standard nature and then vacates the premises. In these circumstances the patient has very little comeback” he concluded.
The Chief Executive of the IDA Mr. Fintan Hourihan welcomed the report and thanked Mr Kilcoyne for the work he had carried out on behalf of the DCRS.
“The Service has dealt with a significant number of complaints in its second year of operation. The aim of the Service is to enhance confidence in the quality of care and treatment provided by Irish dentists and we believe it has succeeded in doing this. We will be distributing the report to all our members and discussing it at our upcoming annual conference in Kilkenny (May 15 – 18)” Mr Hourihan said.
The full report and 4 case studies can be viewed here: