Friday 30 September 2016

Cost is top source of complaint about dentists

Published 27/07/2016 | 02:30

Cost was the main source of complaint against dentists last year, with several patients saying they ended up being charged prices which were higher than had been advertised. (Stock photo)
Cost was the main source of complaint against dentists last year, with several patients saying they ended up being charged prices which were higher than had been advertised. (Stock photo)

Cost was the main source of complaint against dentists last year, with several patients saying they ended up being charged prices which were higher than had been advertised.

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A resolution service, which accepted 134 complaints, resolved 44 cases. These resulted in a refund of fees, an apology, re-treatment and payment for dental work by another dentist.

The grievances were dealt with by the Dental Complaints Resolution Service, which is operated by the Irish Dental Association.

Ten complainants claimed that their dentists were rude and others said there was a failure to outline the extent of costs.

The service's annual report said there was a "notable number of people complaining about costs being more than advertised or the dentist proceeded with the work without explaining costs beforehand".

It warned: "Both (parties) should be very clear on how much money will change hands before work is carried out."

Last year, the service received 287 calls and 970 emails and letters. However, many raised issues outside its remit.

The report of facilitator Michael Kilcoyne said that there was nothing the service could do about how much a dentist charges. Dentists can charge whatever they wish and it is up to the patient to shop around for the best prices.

There was only a handful of dentists about whom repeat complaints were made.

"This shows that complaints are isolated and in general, people have high regard for dentists," the service added.

There was a substantial increase in complaints from patients who had work done under the medical card and other social welfare schemes.

As the HSE is not linked to the scheme, they had to be referred back to the health service complaints division, according to the report, which was launched by the service's chief executive Fintan Hourihan.

"Year on year, the thing that becomes clear is that communication between the dentist and patient is the best tool for avoiding complaints," it said.

Cases which were dealt with included that of refunds of €1,900 and €900.

This followed work done by a dentist which resulted in three of the patient's four treated teeth having to be extracted and the other one had to be done again.

In another case, a patient who paid €495 for treatment was angry that another €130 of work was needed less than two months later.

Irish Independent

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