(Updated Nov. 2, 2020)
This post was prompted by an e-mail I received from Dr. Jeffrey Segal, the CEO of Medical Justice Services, not by a visitor question. But the topic is very relevant for many of our visitors, and that is, what is the impact on the dentist of your asking for a refund for dental work when you’ve had a problem? So I wanted to post this.
One of the worries dentists have about giving a refund is that refunds can go on their record at the National Practitioner Data Bank. They want to avoid this. I recommend giving the dentist an easy way to give you a refund.
Oh, and you need to know that many dentists aren’t aware of these rules, so it may help you to educate them as to the latest rules.
If your demand for a refund is oral and not written, and if the dentist makes the refund himself or herself, rather than going to their insurance company or the corporation the dentist works for, then the refund does not have to be reported. If the demand is written, it needs to be reported. If the corporate entity writes the check, then it also has to be reported.
If I were asking for a refund, and I were getting some resistance from the dentist, I would say something like, “Look, I’m willing to make this easy for you. I’m making this request orally, which means you do not have to report this to the National Practitioner Data Bank. Let’s not make this messy and just keep it simple.”
And then, if you get resistance, you need to know your three basic options for applying pressure to the dentist. You don’t need to threaten to sue in order to apply pressure. Let the dentist know that you are aware of all of these options:
- The first and most gentle option is with negative online reviews. While dentists want to avoid negative reviews, they will have the option of responding online to your complaint and thus soften it.
- The second is to complain to the state dental board. This can be fairly strong pressure. If your complaint is legitimate, the dental board has the power to make things very difficult for the dentist.
- The final option is going to a lawyer. Just a letter from a lawyer can motivate a dentist to action, or you can go to a full-blown lawsuit. But here you not only need a legitimate complaint but a substantial one before a lawyer will be willing to take up your case.
– Dr. Hall
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