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Dental Complaints Resolution Service handles 102 complaints in 2016

(19 Jul 2017)

The Dental Complaints Resolution Service has published its fifth annual report in which it gives details of the 102 complaints it dealt with in 2016.

The main areas of contention were fees (23 complaints), clinical issues (22) and communication failures (13).  The DCRS said it resolved 58 of the 102 complaints within the calendar year.

In most cases the resolution involved a refund of fees, retreatment or remedial treatment elsewhere. Seven cases did not proceed any further after an investigation found there was no substance to the complaints.

Of the 44 remaining cases, the DCRS says up to half may already have been resolved between the dentist and patient.

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.

Michael Kilcoyne, who is the Facilitator of the DCRS said two notable features of 2016 was the higher settlement rate and the involvement of a dedicated dental adviser.

“The service is now building on the experience of the last five years and is solving a higher percentage of cases than before. In 2015 we resolved 33% of the 134 complaints during the year but last year the figure rose to 57%. We have also enlisted the assistance of an independent dental adviser, Dr Maurice Fitzgerald and his advice on complex dental cases has proved invaluable.”

“Communication between dentists and patients is the most effective tool available for complaints resolution and we always insist that the parties engage with one another first and try to resolve the issue without outside intervention. “

“In 2014 we handled 158 complaints and in 2015 that dropped to 134. The drop to 102 last year is welcome and may well reflect a trend towards greater engagement between dentists and patients. Complaints regarding non-display of fees in reception areas and dentists charging higher prices than those shown on the practices website have increased. It is important that pricing is displayed and that the prices are kept up to date” Mr Kilcoyne said.

Complaints in relation to treatment received in 2016

Treatment

Number of complaints
Fillings 11
Diagnosis 10
Root Canal 10
Failure of Treatment 9
Crown / Bridge 7
Cosmetic - Veneers 7
Denture 5
Post-operative Pain 5
Orthodontic 5
Implants 5
Oral Surgery - Extractions 4
Braces 1

 

Concerns

According to the report a total of 19 complaints could not be accepted as they related to issues outside its remit, including work done under medical card schemes or dental work performed outside the Republic of Ireland.  This is almost double the 10 complaints of this type which were received in 2015.

The report also noted that the number of people getting ‘cheap’ dental work done abroad continues to be a problem while DIY orthodontic care also appears to be on the rise.

“We wouldn’t recommend that people get ‘cheap’ work done overseas as patients are left with absolutely no recourse if something goes wrong. Similarly we would advise people to steer clear of websites which send people aligners in the post after they use an at home ‘evaluation kit’ and which they claim people can then fit themselves. This is very worrying and the DCRS has already seen one case relating to these kits.”

The Chief Executive of the Irish Dental Association, Fintan Hourihan welcomed the findings and thanked Mr Kilcoyne for the work he has carried out on behalf of the DCRS.

“2016 has perhaps been the most successful yet for the DCRS with the settlement rate rising while the overall number of complaints has fallen. The dental profession deserves credit for adopting a proactive approach to dealing with consumer complaints while it is also refreshing to see that greater support from the dental profession is being reported by Mr Kilcoyne. It’s also interesting to see that almost a third of complaints – 31% - were against dentists who are not IDA members”

Mr Hourihan pointed out that a new version of the Dental Complaints Resolution website has just gone live to coincide with the launch of the annual report and among the new features of the site is enhanced accessibility to case studies.

Download the DCRS 2016 Annual Report here.