Ken went in for his check-up. His dentist noticed something at the back of his throat and urged him to see an ENT immediately. Ken was terrified especially since he knew my story. His ENT wasn’t concerned in the least. Ken made sure the report was forwarded to his dentist. After a couple of weeks, when he hadn’t heard from his dentist, he picked up the phone and asked whether they received the report. They said they did. Ken proceeded to explain why he would never return to the practice again.
Ken felt he deserved to know if the report was received, and how they intend to move forward with his dental care. Also, Ken questioned whether the dentist was knowledgable about oral cancer.
Yes, the dentist did her job by referring the patient. However, clearly it is not enough. When a patient is made to feel scared about a prognosis, a follow-up phone call is necessary to prevent losing a patient. The patient’s emotional well-being is almost as important as the procedure for recognizing a potential abnormality.
What could the dental practice have done differently? They should have followed up by saying, “We received the report and glad it was nothing. We want to be sure we keep an eye on the area for changes. Do you have any questions?” Very simply, build rapport with a follow-up phone call.
I welcome your comments on this scenario. Would you handle this situation differently?