Be worthy - Restoring Excellence

Be worthy


May 30

Recently I saw a complaint online about a specialist not doing what the referring dentist thought he should.

This was followed by an outburst of complaints about specialists not calling and stealing work and never sending to this one or that one ever again. So there.

Show those evil plotting specialists whose boss.

However I have seen some referrals to specialists!

Sometimes they say "exo 37" or "toothache 26", scribbled in illegible hand writing on a tear off pad. Perhaps the dentist then visualises the procedure they want done and expect that it will transmit telepathically.

Of course, whilst how your write your referral in no way reflects your clinical abilities, its certain that everyone else will judge you as such. Book designers don't spend so much time on the cover for nothing.

I wonder if the same result would have occurred if the referral said;

"Dear Specialist,
I saw Mr xyz for general examination. The 26 is badly decayed and the patient would like it removed. I note the extreme length and severe curvature on the roots.

I've discussed numerous treatment options with the patient and after four months, I plan to place an implant. If the socket is ideal for an immediate implant, please place that at time of surgery, otherwise just remove and socket graft.

Thank you again,
Not Lazy General Dentist
Enc. radiographs and photos"

I'm almost certain that with a letter like that, the case would have been treated to the referring dentists satisfaction.

I'm not a specialist but I've had local dentists refer me a case saying "patient doesn't have much money, please treat". After financing the patient through the whole case, the referring dentist then complained that I didn't refer the case back for the implant crown, despite having no treatment plan listed on the referral!

Why shouldn't they call whenever there is an uncertainty?

Consider how difficult it is to contact another dentist. Now consider how much time it would take to do that five or ten times on a consult day. Really not practical.

But if they don't, I will stamp my little feet and not refer them any more cases!

This goes both ways.

You can avoid specialists. But specialists can also avoid you.

You might be left out on your own when you break something and need a specialist to help retrieve the case.

So be worthy of your specialist.

1. If things don't turn out the way you wanted, check if you communicated properly on your end first.

2. Write a proper referral letter with a diagnosis, what you want them to do, and options discussed. Sort of like you expect them to write back.

3. Show insight. If you messed up, call them, and confess you messed up. Don't be insecure and defensive and wait for them to have to criticise you.

4. Put the patient first. If you keep having problems with an area, maybe refer before you stuff it up.

5. Look after them as well when things go wrong, which happens to them as well as you...and make sure you communicate that you helped them out. I've calmed down quite a few ortho patients when anterior teeth have gone non vital during ortho treatment.

6. Don't be greedy. If a case is too difficult for you, don't send the low paid difficult part to the specialist and then ask for the easy high paid part back. A little generosity makes the world go round.

7. If you do the restorative component of a case, make sure that the standard that you provide will not undo the work the specialist did.

Remember that forums give you power to complain about specialists, but if you constantly beat on them, they can read too.

If everyone dislikes you, you might not have a friend when you need one.


About the Author

Dr Lincoln Harris has been completely focused on excellence and quality from the beginning of his career as a dentist. He established the first private dental practice in Bargara – Harris Dental Boutique in 2000. Since graduation he has trained extensively in Aesthetic Implant Techniques and Full Mouth Rehabilitation to attain immense skill and knowledge. With his vast dental knowledge Dr Harris coaches and trains dentists from all over the world on complex aesthetic dentistry, surgical techniques and business management. Dr Harris is the founder of RIPE. Restorative Implant Practice Excellence: Full Protocol group an international forum of over 70,000 members worldwide. The purpose of the group is to share information and excellence in the dental industry. He has also lectured in multiple cities throughout Australia, North America, Asia, Singapore, United Kingdom and Europe.