According to an Associated Press story hitting the local media, “the state attorney general's office has sued three former dental offices in the state whose workers allegedly persuaded low-income patients to get expensive and often unnecessary dental work they could not afford.”
I had three people tell me that the promo to the evening’s local news was about dentists scamming patients.
Of course, I was interested in finding out more. Since I was working – not scamming patients – I couldn’t see the story on TV and had to search for it online after I had finished with patients.
As a dental professional, I do not defend this action at all. I am sure the charges are serious if the AG’s office is involved.
However, the sensationalist promo made it seem as if all dental healthcare professionals are crooks. I resent this. And more important, did the dentists being charged hold a gun to these patient’s heads and make them take out a loan? Were these people taken advantage of – in much the same way as those who have lost their homes to foreclosure? Or, are they just as responsible as the dentists?
The local Boston media does not run many stories on advances in dental medicine – of which there are many. Lord knows I’ve spent a good few years sending out press releases and other information in the attempt to educate consumers – only to be met with dead silence.
However, let those who are less fortunate get taken advantage of, and the media is quick to do a story.
People, I admit it, there are bad dentists, doctors, plastic surgeons, etc. out there. You simply *cannot* assume that just because someone has a framed diploma hanging on the wall that he or she is competent. You *have* to ask questions including:
What types of continuing education classes have you taken? (Don’t be afraid to ask for evidence of this ongoing training in the form of certifications.)
How long have you been practicing? How many hours have you put in?
Are you certified by any of the leading industry associations, such as the American Medical Association or the American Dental Association?
What other doctors do you work with? Can you give me their contact information? (You want to see who is in the doctor's network.)
In addition, ask for five references -- including references from people who had work done two or three years ago – and call *all* of them. If someone is having any problems with the outcome of the procedure, it will show up after the first year.
You'll also want to ask around to see if anyone in your circle of friends or co-workers has heard of the doctor or dentist.
Unfortunately, it does behoove consumers to protect themselves. To paraphrase Bill O’Reilly, no one is looking out for you. You have to do it yourself.