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November 2017

What to Do When Patients Give You a Negative Review

Social media has become the easiest way for unhappy patients to share their complaints with anyone who will listen. That can be a big problem! But whether the feedback is positive or negative, it's an opportunity to learn and make improvements.

So what do you do when you see a negative review about the doctor or the office? The first priority is to respond promptly. That advice is also the first step outlined in the article 10 Ways to Deal with Negative Customer Reviews from Practical eCommerce, a group created to provide down-to-earth articles and commentary to help ecommerce businesses. The article provides a step-by-step process for handling these situations in a way that produces the best outcomes. By following the appropriate steps, an office can help diffuse the situation and potentially avoid further negative feedback from an unhappy patient.

Feedback is always important, but sometimes people can be downright inappropriate. So, quick action is also recommended when you come across that violate the specific reviewing platform policies. For example, reviews posted on Google My Business listings must adhere to the specific review policies. If you come across reviews violating the policies, Google provides instructions on how to flag inappropriate reviews. It’s a good idea to become familiar with these policies on all of the review sites where your office is listed and know how to flag inappropriate reviews if they are made.

At the end of the day, there's always something to be learned from any review. Feedback, either positive or negative, can help you learn what your office is doing right and where you need to improve to make the patients’ experience the best it can be.

Difficulty Obtaining Copies of Dental Records

When it comes to patients requesting a copy of their dental record from a former dentist, Michigan law is clear: The patient has an absolute right to receive a copy of that record.

Patients should submit a written request that is signed and dated and is not more than 60 days old. There's no requirement that a patient sign a written release form prepared by or in the presence of the former dentist. Instead, the law requires that a copy of the record be produced no later than 30 days after receipt of the patient’s written request, or 60 days if the requested records are maintained off site.

A dental office receiving a signed request for records should take reasonable steps to insure that the patient is actually the one making the request. For example, the dentist could call the patient and verify that the form was signed by him or her. Or, the patient’s signature on the form could be compared with other signatures of the patient on file. Requiring the patient to appear in the office and sign in the presence of the former dentist is not reasonable. It's also illegal for a dentist receiving a request for records to ask the patient — or anyone else — why the records are being requested.

Digital records

Dentists cannot refuse to provide a digital copy of any portion of a dental record maintained in a digital format. Section 9 of the Michigan Medical Records Access Act outlines the fees that may be charged for making copies of a record. This section recognizes that portions of the record may be in “some form or medium other than paper.” When this is the case, it's the actual cost of preparing a duplicate that may be charged, instead of the per-page charge applicable to paper records. For example, if a radiograph is maintained in a digital format and the copy is requested to be in a digital format (and the patient is willing to pay the added cost), this is the way it must be produced.

At some point patients will leave one practice and join another — it’s going to happen. While a dental practice is responsible for maintaining a patient’s record for 10 years, the practice is also responsible for providing a copy of that record to the patient when requested. It's the law.

More information on dental records is available in the Legal Services section of the MDA website.

Two Big Human Resources Seminars Coming Up

Two great human resources seminars are coming up fast that will help you avoid staffing-related problems, build a better team, and become more productive.

Friday, Nov. 17:
The Best of the MDA’s HR Hotline:
Learning from Others’ Mistakes and Safely Admitting to Some of Your Own

Join MDA Journal columnist and human resources expert Jodi Schafer, SPHR, and MDA Human Resources Director Brandy Ryan, PHR, SHRM-PC, for a full-day seminar that will cover the most common human resources questions they receive from office managers and dentists alike. They'll discuss:

  • the legal/ethical aspects of disciplining and firing employees;
  • smart ways to approach the hiring process;
  • methods of communicating effectively with staff; and
  • what to do when unkind comments are made about the doctor or the practice on social media.

No topic is off limits in this fun, frank training seminar.

The cost to attend is $269 for dentists, $169 for staff, or $369 for MDA nonmember dentists.


Friday, Dec. 8, 2017:
Make-and-Take Human Resources Handbook

Also presented by Jodi Schafer, this one-day seminar will guide you through what should — and shouldn’t — be included in your employee manual. You’ll actually create or update your own handbook during the seminar, so you leave with a finished product in your hands! It’s a unique opportunity to collaborate with others in the group and share each other's ideas.

BONUS! You’ll receive the MDA’s complete Staff Matters Human Resources System in electronic form at no charge. A $149 value, it’s included free with your course registration.

The cost to attend is $299 for dentists and staff or $399 for MDA nonmember dentists.


Contact Information

MDA Practice Management Department
Ginger Fernandez, RDH, RDA
Manager, Professional Review and Practice Management

MDA Human Resources Department
Brandy Ryan, PHR, SHRM-PC
MDA Director of Human Resources