Navigating Patient Disputes in a Dental Practice

By: Amanda Howard, Esq.

Patient disputes can arise in any dental practice, posing challenges for both practitioners and patients alike. Handling these disputes effectively is crucial for maintaining trust reputation, and patient satisfaction. In this article, we’ll explore common types of patient disputes encountered in dental practices and provide guidance on addressing them from a legal standpoint while maintaining professional integrity and compliance with legal obligations.

Patient disputes can stem from various sources, including:

  1. Billing and Payment Issues: Disputes may arise over billing errors, insurance claims or disagreements regarding fees and payment arrangements.
  2. Treatment Outcomes: Patients may express dissatisfaction with the results of a procedure or perceive that their treatment did not meet their expectations.
  3. Communication Breakdowns: Misunderstandings or miscommunications between the dentist and the patient regarding treatment plans, expectations or post-procedure care can lead to disputes.
  4. Service Quality: Patients may raise concerns about the quality of care received, including issues such as wait times, cleanliness or staff conduct.

Tips for Addressing Patient Disputes

  1. Listen Actively But Avoid Admitting Fault: When a patient expresses a concern or complaint, listen attentively. Allow them to fully explain their perspective, demonstrating that their concerns are being taken seriously. However, before a thorough investigation is conducted, avoid communications with patients that admit fault or making statements that could be construed as an admission of liability.
  2. Conduct Thorough Investigations: Conduct comprehensive investigations into patient complaints, gathering relevant evidence and documentation to provide to your attorney so that they may ascertain the facts and assess potential legal liabilities.
  3. Adhere to Legal Obligations: Comply with legal obligations governing patient rights, confidentiality, informed consent and professional conduct throughout the dispute resolution process.
  4. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all communications, investigations, and resolutions related to the patient dispute. Accurate documentation is essential for protecting the practice’s interests and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
  5. Seek Resolution Collaboratively: Work collaboratively with the patient to find a mutually satisfactory resolution to the dispute. This may involve offering a refund or discount, providing additional treatment or corrective measures, or simply apologizing and reassuring the patient of your commitment to their satisfaction.

Dealing with patient disputes is an inevitable aspect of running a dental practice, but how these disputes are handled can significantly impact the practice’s reputation and patient satisfaction. Additionally, taking proactive steps to prevent future disputes can help ensure a positive patient experience and foster long-term practice success.

Get Help

As a boutique law firm dedicated to supporting the healthcare community, our goal is to ensure our clients are protected. Please contact us at Florida Healthcare Law Firm to set up a consultation today.

Starting a MedSpa in Florida

Prepared by: Carlos Arce, Esq.

Florida Healthcare Law Firm

Looking for a healthcare business opportunity but don’t want to deal with insurance? Look no further than MedSpas! MedSpas offer a variety of non-medically necessary healthcare services such as Botox, IV hydration therapy, facial procedures, hormone therapy, weight loss, and rejuvenation or anti-aging therapy. These services require a healthcare provider to render them, in accordance with the provider’s scope of practice. While these services may not be reimbursed by insurance, they can be paid for directly by the patient receiving them, making for an excellent cash-based business.

Starting a MedSpa is a similar legal process as any business, but there are important specific considerations to keep in mind before diving in. First and foremost, it’s crucial to determine what services the medspa plans on offering and how the business will charge for them. Additionally, it’s important to consider the age group of target patients, since their insurance will help determine what the right insurance policies are for the business. Lastly, keep in mind that local licensing requirements often vary depending on the types of services offered.

While MedSpa owners do not need to be licensed healthcare providers, it’s important to understand the regulations to operate a medspa business within the law. One reason the state of Florida allows this is because MedSpas do not reimburse claims from insurance, therefore, they are not required to have an Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) license. Under Florida law, licensed healthcare providers are required to diagnose patients prior to receiving services. This step is crucial in ensuring compliance with applicable laws and protecting patients when considering opening a medspa business.

Even though the state of Florida doesn’t require a special license for MedSpas, they are still considered medical practices and must comply with certain regulations. This includes patient privacy laws, proper record-keeping procedures, and maintaining licensure for all healthcare providers. It’s also important to note that Florida has specific laws regarding fraud and abuse, including illegal referral payments and fee splitting. Stay compliant and ensure the safety of your patients by following these regulations before diving in to medspa business ownership.

Attorney Carlos H. Arce works with the Florida Healthcare Law Firm in Delray Beach, FL. He has deep experience with health law, business law, and mergers & acquisitions. Carlos has handled multi-million-dollar healthcare transactions and has served as out-of-house counsel to various small to large healthcare entities. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or by calling 561-455-7700.