The Dental Complaints Resolution Service has issued its first annual report in which it gives details of the 115 complaints it has handled so far.
Most complaints concerned the standard of work, after-care service, cost, the attitude of the dentist, access to records and delays in treatment.
The DCRS, which was only established in April of last year, 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.
The report states that 18 complaints have been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties while 23 cases are nearing completion and should be resolved satisfactorily. Some of the results have involved a refund of fees paid, additional work to be carried out at no extra cost and/or an apology.
In over 20 other cases the mediator has received verbal complaints but is awaiting written complaints while in a further 18 cases he is awaiting detailed responses from dentists. Five cases are being referred to the Complaints Panel. (For full details see Note to Editor. The annual report also outlines 4 case studies).
Michael Kilcoyne, who is the Chairman of the Consumers Association and the mediator of the DCRS said that overall he would expect a settlement rate of around 75% where complaints are formally submitted.
“In Irish culture we haven’t been very good at complaining and consequently we haven’t been very good at handling complaints either. The DCRS offers patients the opportunity to resolve complaints about their dental treatment for free and in a fair and timely manner. On average complaints are being resolved in about two months.
If patients have a complaint we would ask them to raise it directly with the dental practice in question first to see if the matter can be resolved there. If that doesn’t work then contact the DCRS or checkout our website. It’s important to remember that this is a voluntary service, recommendations are not binding and patients or dentists can opt out at any point if they so wish” Mr Kilcoyne said.
The Mediator also had some advice for dentists. “The key point from dentists’ perspective is the importance of clear communications. Dentists will suffer if they do not train themselves to listen closely to their patients. In a number of cases the issue was not the quality of the work done but misunderstanding or poor communication between the dentist and the patient. But overall I have been very impressed with the positive approach adopted by dentists to the Service and I commend them for that” he said.
The Chief Executive of the IDA Mr. Fintan Hourihan welcomed the report and thanked Mr Kilcoyne for the excellent work he had carried out on behalf of the DCRS.
“The Service has dealt with a significant number of complaints in its first 8 months of operation. Our objective in setting it up was to enhance confidence in the quality of care and treatment provided by Irish dentists and we believe it has succeeded in doing this in a relatively short time frame. We will be discussing the report at our annual conference in Galway next week (April 18 – 20) and looking at ways to enhance the Service further” Mr Hourihan said.
For further information on the DCRS or to see the full report and 4 case studies go to www.dentalcomplaints.ie