154,967 registered members
Huge interest in dental complaints scheme
[Posted: Fri 14/09/2012 by Gillian Tsoi www.irishhealth.com]
A new dental complaints resolution service for patients in Ireland is proving an outstanding success, according to those running it.
The Dental Complaints Resolution Service – launched by the Irish Dental Association (IDA) in May – aims to assist dental patients and dentists in resolving complaints about dental services.
Complaints and litigation regarding dental work are on the increase and in the current absence of any system to resolve complaints, many relatively minor grievances are being referred to the Dental Council (the regulatory body for dentists), the small claims court or other civil courts.
This can involve considerable time, cost and distress for dentists and the public.
The majority of claims contain no evidence of malpractice, according to the IDA, but the option of a more flexible and less costly scheme to resolve complaints is attractive to both dentists and the public.
The Dental Complaints Resolution Service aims to ensure the provision of friendly, safe and high quality dental services, dental care and treatment to patients in Ireland.
Most complaints received by the resolution service relate to patient concerns about pricing, allegations of poor service, poor communications or unsatisfactory after-care service. The resolution service ensures that dentists received detailed written statements of concern from patients and encourages dentists to avail of advice from their professional defence bodies in deciding how best to respond.
Already a handful of complaints have been fully resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties. Dentists have been pleased to see cases resolved in a timely fashion and without recourse to lengthy and expensive legal correspondence.
The scheme has the full support of the Dental Council of Ireland, which regulates the profession and is actively supported also by Dental Protection, the UK-based professional defence organisation for dentists in Ireland.
The complaints scheme's mediator Michael Kilcoyne, formerly a Ministerial nominee to the Dental Council and currently Chairman of the Consumer Association of Ireland, says the number of enquiries received is already well ahead of expectations.
Mr Kilcoyne sees this as a really positive indication of support for the scheme from both the dental profession and the general public.
He says he has been very impressed with the positive engagement by dentists when they are notified of complaints and has also noted how some complaints have been referred to him at the suggestion of dentists to aggrieved patients.
An interesting feature of the enquiries has been the large number of questions and complaints received in regard to the non-availability of dental benefits under the two state-funded schemes and these are directed to the relevant state agencies as appropriate. A significant number of complainants have been slow to submit their complaint in writing or have sent in incomplete complaints, which has the effect of delaying or rendering it impossible to resolve complaints.
Mr Kilcoyne has also noted that 10% of complaints relate to dental treatment received outside the state.
More information on the scheme is available to dentists and members of the public at www.dentalcomplaints.ie.
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