So, big week and if you look back as far as Brexit big year. Big shock results? they shouldn’t have been, the important thing is to correct the why before we have bigger problems. It’s the age old differences of the ‘have’s and the ‘have not’s, those perceived to be listened to and those who feel ignored. This affects the whole of society, that anger and stress manifests itself all too often in our dental surgeries.
I had one such case this week, I won’t go into the details but you won’t be surprised that it boils down to pain, money and unrealistic expectations. I would love to tell you that it was resolved harmoniously and we have managed to move forward in a positive direction but no. Unfortunately, its another case of unresolved stress where the patient (or in this case their partner) feels hard done by and restricted by finances, whilst I am left with unresolved worry and overthinking how I handled things. Now this type of problem is a minority but is a sleep loser and a major source of chronic stress for me.
What could I have done differently. How could I be better prepared? Well the big issue was expectations? Difficult, because expectations are always linked to finances and to pain. I like to think that I pretty good with my informed consent but patient and dentist perceptions of inform consent can differ massively. We’re constantly trying to simplify our dental degree and years of experience to patients of every educational background. But everybody’s human and sometimes, especially when distracted by pain and lack of sleep we’ll hear what we want to hear. So “there’s a chance this tooth might need a root canal”, becomes “yes, we can fix it, end of story”.
On reflection, would I have done anything different clinically ?- No. Would I have handled the conflict better ?-Yes. I was on the defensive in the conversation, the person who controls the conversation is the one asking all the questions. My treatment was being questioned and I was answering/ reasoning. I should have been leading with questions such as why did it take so long from knowing you needed treatment to seeking it? Why did you choose not to come to the appointments you made? etc.
So what does this have to do with recent current affairs? My take home message would be it’s never as black and white as it seems. The ‘why’ often runs far deeper than the presenting problem. Equip yourself with the way to resolve these issues, be able to admit fault when it’s there but if not: Write good notes, do what seems fair and reasonable( or seek advice if unsure) and then put it to bed, dwell on it no more. Don’t take on board the stress of others, I’m sure you have plenty of your own to be going on with 😉