Recently on a dental chat forum a question was posed from an Anonymous Contributor who supposedly was working as an Associate Dentist at a dental practice where the Practice Principal had recently sold the practice to a Corporate, and now, as part of the contract of sale, the selling Principal had some annual “targets” to reach for the new owner.
The Associate Dentist was feeling pressured by the Practice Principal to “over-produce” [the words of the Anonymous Associate], supposedly so that the Practice could hit these certain production targets demanded by the new owners.
The Associate dentist felt that their own clinical ethics were being compromised by having to achieve production targets.
It is an interesting question
What I found during my thirty five years of dental practice was that the treatment that lasted the longest and was better for the patient was in most cases, usually more expensive than inferior choices.
And after all, DOING NOTHING for a patient, and WATCHING things [whatever that means], is always going to be inexpensive compared to restoring something with the best materials.
So when it came to treatment, it was quite apparent that what was going to be best treatment option for the patient’s health and well-being, was also going to be good for the financial health of the dental practice.
If you had a hole in your roof…
If you had a hole in your roof, would you
- Watch it and see how it goes
- Put a tarp over the hole, and see how it goes
- Fix the hole with the best possible materials?
If you were having a heart attack…
If you were having a heart attack, would you like the paramedic to say:
- “Let’s just watch you for a while and see if you get better…”
- “Try not to over-exert yourself and see how you go…”
- “Let’s get you to a hospital and get this thing fixed…”
Are you offering “supervised neglect”?
Whenever you fail to offer a patient the best possible treatment, are you actually participating in supervised neglect?
Are you selling third-rate parachutes?
If you were about to jump out of an aeroplane, would you like to hear:
“This parachute you’re wearing ranked three and a half stars out of five in recent quality tests…”
Or would you rather know that you were wearing the best-made parachute ever?
You should always be offering your patients the best treatment
You should always be offering your patients the best treatment.
And if you can’t provide them with the best treatment, then refer them to someone who can.
Don’t let patients talk you into giving them a treatment that is not in their best interests
Years ago I stopped letting patients talk me into doing deep subgingival fillings where I knew that I wasn’t able to get 100% marginal integrity.
I started to reject the question:
“Oh can’t you just fill it Doc?”
Because to “just fill it” was not in the patient’s best interests.
Sometimes best treatment will cost the patient more.
But trying to make second-rate treatment be as good as best treatment will wear out your soul and erode your own moral fibre.
To be truly honourable to your patients you must learn to get out of your own way and learn how to ethically offer your patients best treatment always.
Ethically and morally, it will be a WIN-WIN for all concerned.
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