DTC Competition: Reflecting on a Complaint with Chinwe Akuonu

Next entry for my DTC competition is from Chinwe Akuona from Kings College London...

A complaint is a statement that something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable.

In the dental setting, a patient may want to make a complaint as a result of disappointment with treatment, lack of transparency with costs, or even because unhappy with staff attitude.

Working as a dentist involves daily human interaction, therefore, it is important to learn to deal with different behaviours and be equipped to handle complaints promptly, effectively and professionally to avoid situations escalating unnecessarily.

Complaints handling is an integral requirement for dental practices, because it is an important way of ensuring patients receive the care they are entitled to.

The CQC and the GDC require all dental providers to have an effective, accessible, clear and straightforward system for identifying, receiving, handling and responding to complaints for all services provided, both privately and under the NHS.

When it comes to managing complaints, prevention is the best approach. Communicating effectively, providing quality treatments that focus on patient’s needs and training the dental team to be prepared at all times are all valuable steps. Observing patients’ body language and providing feedback cards may also help identify complaints that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Dental professionals should have a friendly and approachable attitude when dealing with complaints because more often than not, patients just want to be listened to. No two complaints are the same, therefore, keeping in mind the individual circumstances and adopting a flexible approach is key. Apologising, being sympathetic, acknowledging the complaint and keeping the patient informed every step of the way contribute to making the process tolerable.

Complaints are unavoidable, so don’t see them as obstacles; instead, record them accurately and consider them as valuable feedback and as an opportunity to learn from.

Finally, if ever in doubt, indemnity providers are experts at providing invaluable advice, so always reach out to them.

Look out for more entries for the competition coming soon!

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