NEW DENTAL BODY HANDLES OVER 100 COMPLAINTS IN 6 MONTHS
MEDIATOR SAYS HE EXPECTS 75% SETTLEMENT RATE
“HIGHEST STANDARDS OF COMMUNICATION ARE KEY”
A new voluntary service set up to offer patients the opportunity to resolve complaints about their dental treatment in a fair and timely manner has handled over 100 complaints and queries in the first six months of its operation.
The main issues raised by complainants included: poor clinical treatment, poor communication, price, delays in treatment and access to records.
The Dental Complaints Resolution Service (DCRS) was launched in May with the support of the Irish Dental Association. Michael Kilcoyne, Chairman of the Consumers Association was appointed mediator of the Service.
When it was first established the DCRS expected to receive about 100 complaints in the first year but it has already surpassed that figure.
“This is a new approach to dealing with customer complaints and we are really pleased with the way it is working to date. So far ten complaints have been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties while 18 are nearing a satisfactory conclusion. Six complaints relate to work carried out abroad and are beyond the remit of the DCRS.
While some people did not proceed with a written complaint, the remainder are in train. Overall I would expect a settlement rate of around 75% where complaints are formally submitted. But 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” Kilcoyne said.
IDA Chief Executive, Mr. Fintan Hourihan welcomed the positive response to the new service. “Dentists have not only reduced or frozen their fees in recent times but they have also agreed to display their fees prominently and now they have introduced this new service which benefits both patients and dentists. All of these innovations help to build confidence in Irish dentistry.”
Kilcoyne said that the key issue which emerges from the first six months is the need for the highest standards of communication between dentist and patient.
“The dentist must explain everything clearly – all the steps of the treatment, why the patient might experience pain, the costs involved etc. If there was better communication between patients and dentists it would dramatically reduce the number of complaints. Generally I’ve found a good relationship between dentists and patients and most dentists are very co-operative” he said.
“Complaints about treatments which were previously available free of charge under the PRSI scheme or Medical Card scheme - but are no longer due to state cutbacks - as well as complaints about dental work carried out abroad are quite common. Unfortunately these do not fall within the remit of the Service. But most others do and if anyone has a dental treatment issue which they are unhappy with we would urge them to contact us as it is in everyone’s interests to resolve it fairly, amicably and in a timely fashion” Kilcoyne concluded.
For further information on the DCRS go to www.dentalcomplaints.ie
Note to Editor
How the DCRS works
Patients often contact the DCRS by phone initially before submitting a written complaint. The mediator than contacts the dentist, to inform them about the complaint and to give them the opportunity to respond. He will also try to establish communication between patient and dentist. While most cases can be resolved by the DCRS, the mediator can refer more serious or complex complaints to a panel of experts which will make a recommendation. However the scheme is voluntary and recommendations are non-binding so dentists or patients can opt out at any time.
A full interview with Michael Kilcoyne will appear in the forthcoming edition of the Journal of the Irish Dental Association.