2 Ways the “Paper Clip Dentist” Scandal Affects Dentist-Patient Relationships

A Guest Post from Robert Milton

Wow. If people weren’t already afraid of the dentist, they’re going to have a tough time now. Or rather, practicing and future dentists will have a harder time convincing patients they’re trustworthy thanks to the latest dental lawsuit making waves in the media.
On Monday, Dr. Michael Clair of Massachusetts was sentenced to one year in jail because he used paper clips instead of stainless-steel posts for root canals and then fraudulently billed Medicaid the full price. One of the patients involved in this particular case, Joshua Almeida, suffered toothaches and eventually lost his tooth from the botched root canal.
What can we take away from all this?
I think there are a number of lessons to be learned from the “Paper Clip Dentist” scandal, but two things in particular stuck out to me.
Safety Over Cutting Corners
The paper clip post and core method for root canals may be familiar to some dental students. It’s not unheard of for a root canal project in a third year Restoration course to use a paper clip for the temporary core of a provisional crown. Even one of the most frequently cited textbooks on the subject, Fundamentals of Fixed Prosthodontics by Herb Schillingburg, DDS, includes this less than optimal material where you would expect a stainless-steel post to be used. However, it’s important to note that it is considered only for temporary use.
Clair acknowledges he used the common office supply because it was cheaper than the $50 a piece stainless-steel posts. He might have gotten away with it for the temporaries, but he kept them in permanently leaving unaware patients with structurally unsound teeth and vulnerable to infection.
It’s no secret that running a dental practice is expensive. Of course you’ll want to look for a way to cut costs when you’re dealing with massive student loan debt from dental school, keeping equipment up-to-date, and the everyday business expenses of rent, utilities, and payroll. But safety should always trump cutting corners financially. Granted, Clair may be suffering from some sort of mental issue that impairs judgment, but I believe his extreme case serves as a reminder not to cross ethical boundaries when under financial stress.
Easing Dental Fear
An estimated 75% of Americans are fearful of the dentist with up to 10% of those avoiding dental appointments all together. Much of the anxiety associated with dental work is a result of previous bad experiences whether it was a painful procedure or a poor relationship with a dentist. However, news stories such as this most recent lawsuit can horrify patients indirectly.
There’s a good chance that you’ll be faced with even more challenging dental patients than before. After all, root canals are already one of the most feared procedures and now they’ll shutter every time they reach for a paper clip at work. It may be time to boost your chair side manner in regards to this heightened anxiety.
Communication is everything. Keep your ears open and the conversation going with each patient. Some may not want to know what’s happening at all, but many relax when a full explanation of the procedure is given. Perhaps now would be a good time to start showing them the materials you’ll be using so they know you don’t shop at Office Depot for dental supplies.

Providing quality care and squashing fears make for a successful dentist. If you win them over while they’re in your chair, they’ll return frequently and brag about you in between appointments. As a bonus, you’ll get to feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Does anything else strike a chord with you about the Paper Clip Dentist case?

Robert Milton writes for Austin Dental Center, an Austin dentist that’s dedicated to making patients feel comfortable while providing a wide range of services from mercury-free fillings to dental implants. You can find them at 2304 Hancock Drive #1, Austin, TX 78756 or call (512) 454-0414.

10 FAFSA Tips for Health Students

A guest post from Casey Roberts

As any student can tell you, paying for school can be the most difficult part of all.  But luckily, there are literally millions of students each year who have the same problem.  No matter if you are studying dentistry, radiology, or becoming a brain surgeon, there are financial aid options for you.  To prove it, we have included just ten tips every health student should know.

1. FAFSA – The Free Application for Federal Student Aid should be the first item any student attending any college should take on.  A copy can easily be obtained online, at your high school, or at the college you are considering attending.

2. Correct FAFSA – The rules to financial aid are always changing and so are the FAFSA forms.  Before you fill yours out, make sure that it is for the current year, as last year's form may not apply.

3. Early is better – Because the FAFSA is such a lengthy form, be sure and get started as early as possible as it will ask for all your information, your income, your parent's income, and much more.

4. Do it online – If you have an internet enabled device at home, use www.fafsa.ed.gov to fill out the FAFSA.  It will take all the usual hassles away from filling out paper forms and even has tips as you fill it out.

5. Dependent or not – If you are still living with your parents, chances are you might be a dependent.  However, those who don't or who do live with their parents and pay for their own school might be classified as independents.  Know which you are and which you should be to ensure the best results.

6. It's all free – If you have questions about filling out the FAFSA or any financial aid form, don't pay someone to help you.  The counselors at your high school or future college are paid to know the answers and can help you at no charge.

7. Deadlines – As with most things, there are deadlines for the FAFSA.  There is an early, on-time, and late deadline.  Getting your FAFSA in by the early one has many advantages including the option to reapply if your first application is wrong and the option of seeing how much financial aid you qualify for, which can help you decide between colleges.

8. No blanks – Even though an item on the FAFSA may not apply to you, it is important not to leave any line blank.  If you are positive the item does not apply to you, put in a “0.”  If unsure, ask a counselor.

9. No lying – It may be tempting to lie about something like income to get better financial aid results, but FAFSA will use you and your parent's income tax information to confirm your answers, so be sure and do it right.

10. Repeat – Most students plan to attend school for at least two years, and the FAFSA and financial aid process should be repeated for every year of school.  This is doubly true for students whose financial circumstances change, as the amount of financial aid can change too.

Bonus! Beyond FAFSA – FAFSA is the standard for financial aid, but many schools have their own forms as well.  These are also to be filled out for every school you plan on applying to.  The best part is if you fill out and turn everything early enough, you will know how much the school will cost out of pocket.

Casey Roberts is a student and also writes for http://radiologyassistant.org Radiology Assistant which helps students find the right radiology degree.
Related Posts with Thumbnails