The Orthodontist…

When it became apparent that Cheyenne was going to need braces I started asking folks for recommendations on orthodontists.  After I heard the same couple of names come up over and over again, I chose one as Cheyenne’s orthodontist.  Her orthodontist had decades of experience and a charming candor that I really appreciated. I knew that I would probably pay more for the orthodontist I chose, but I was okay with that.  I wanted Cheyenne did have a great doctor.

Unfortunately, Cheyenne’s orthodontist sold his practice about half the way through her two year brace process.  I have never felt the same about Cheyenne’s new orthodontist, the fellow who purchased the practice, as I did about her original orthodontist.  He never really talked to me the way her former orthodontist did.  Indeed, except for introducing himself to all the patients and parents when he took over, he has not talked to me all year.

Cheyenne got her braces off on Wednesday. When I arrived I was given the release below to sign by the nice young lady at the front desk. She has always made an effort to talk to me.

I was reticent to sign this release because I am not a subject matter expert on orthodontia and I had some questions.  The nice young lady at the desk told me the orthodontist would be happy to answer any questions I had if that would make me feel better about signing the release.  My former orthodontist always took the time to cover things with me and answer any questions I had as a matter of course before he asked me to sign anything.

So, the nice young lady told the orthodontist that I had questions and she brought me back to where they had Cheyenne laid back on the chair ready to get her braces off.  It was quite clear from the start of our short conversation that the orthodontist was not happy to talk to me.  In fact, he was downright snippy. He seemed indignant about the fact that I had questions.  I did not appreciate his demeanor.  I was just about to say something about it when I locked eyes with Cheyenne in the chair.  She was looking at me with a look that said, “please do not anger him before he takes my braces off.”  It really did take a great deal of patience on my part to refrain from telling him what I thought about the way he was addressing me and responding to my questions, but I bit my tongue for Cheyenne’s sake.

I wanted to remark that having paid about $6,000 for this whole brace event, the least I expected was two minutes of his time to address my questions.  I wanted to share with him how important bedside manner can be to satisfactory patient outcomes.  I wanted to let him know that the way he behaved in the moment as a professional was sub par.

Perhaps the form I was asked to sign has been signed by a thousand other parents at orthodontists’ offices everywhere – I do not know whether this is a normal release.  All I know is that this was the first time I was asked to sign it and I didn’t feel comfortable signing it without asking the orthodontist a few questions.

Cheyenne’s teeth look great, but I would not recommend this orthodontist.  I like to deal with professionals who take the extra few minutes to communicate with their minor patient’s parent so that they understand what is going on and know what to expect.  I don’t need to have explained all the nuances of orthodontia – just the basics in layperson terms.  I know time is valuable and a commodity that the orthodontist does not likely have in abundance, but such is also the case with my consumer dollars.  I don’t ask a lot, but when I do – I don’t want to be treated like I am an irritant to be dealt with.

Day one thousand two hundred and thirty-seven of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

3 Responses

  1. MotherMaier

    Methinks this young professional (is “young” a correct assumption?) skipped a few class sessions during the Relating to Patients 101 course. I understand your frustration and applaud the empathy shown for Cheyenne.

  2. Miki Tanner-Bendickson

    Perhaps after all your payments have cleared the bank and you know your orthodonist account balance is zeroed, you could share this post with him. It might be something that could jog him into realizing that his patients are more than just a way of making money.

  3. B-dubya

    I’ll never understand why business or professional people will spend a fortune on advertising or promoting what they do….and then blow the whole business when the client is right in front of them! Have they never heard about the power of word-of-mouth? Plus…they’re totally missing out on the bonus that never appears in the books: the person to person interaction. (The Oprah and Gayle factor.)

    By the way, Cheyenne didn’t lose a bit of sparkle when her smile lost its jewels!

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