Hello, I'm a new hygienist currently practicing in a community health office (we also accept insurance). The office recently hired two new hygienists for a total of four, and our schedules are rarely full. In fact, some days they are almost empty! The two veteran hygienists have been busy in the past, and we have a constant inflow of new patients. However, our office has no recall system and the office manager refuses to implement one. Patients are never reminded when they are due, no shows never get called back, and I feel like too many patients are falling through the cracks and not receiving the care they need. I also feel like our business could be a lot more successful with a recall system. I would be happy to undertake this responsibility myself, but would like some advice on how to persuade the office manager into allowing a recall system. Does this fall under abandonment or neglect? And in an office with no past recall system, where is the best place to start? Thank you!
Having a recall system is an essential part of a dental practice. A recall system can increase patient retention, assist in managing and detecting oral diseases, fill schedules, and help to maintain high levels of customer service.
Not having a recall system is not considered abandonment or neglect. Abandonment is when a dental care provider has undertaken a course of treatment and he or she discontinues that treatment without giving the patient adequate notice and the opportunity to receive dental services elsewhere.1 As long as your practice is willing to continue treating its patients the practice is not guilty of abandonment. Neglect is when a dental care provider fails to perform a clinical action at the acceptable standards of the profession resulting in harm to the patient. Negligence can also be charged if the dental care provider failed to inform a patient of his or her disease or condition.2 The situation in your dental practice does not fall under abandonment or neglect.
Motivating staff to change can be a difficult task. If you have tried discussing the issues with the office manager then you should discuss the issues with the dentist owner(s) of the practice. It would be best to highlight the potential benefit the practice and the patients would receive by implementing a recall system. When looking to implement a system seek out resources, continuing education courses, or consultants who can aid in implementing a successful recall program.
• American Dental Association. Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct: Nonmaleficence. Internet: www.ada.org/1379.aspx. Accessed Dec 4 2013.
• Kimbrough-Walls VJ, Lautar CJ. Ethics, Jurisprudence, and Practice Management in Dental Hygiene. 3rd ed. New York: Pearson Education Inc; 2012.