I feel like something really weird is going on, and I’m wondering if dentists in Elgin ever blacklist people? I have never had any issues with the practice. It’s a large one, but they generally seem to be on top of things and even though they aren’t exactly personable, they’re one of the few places that will take my crappy HMO plan. So, I’ve been going there for a little over a year now. Again, I never have any problems. I haven’t even had a cavity. I haven’t missed any appointments or anything like that. I’m kind of like clockwork. I go in every six months, get my cleaning done, and then go back in six months again. Last time I was in, I scheduled my six-month visit ahead of time. Nothing abnormal. I do that almost every time because I like my appointment later in the day and those get full if I wait to schedule. But, this time, they called me the day ahead of time and told me they were shorthanded and that they needed to reschedule me. Ok, it happens. But, then we had to book a full month out to get me a late appointment. The day before that appointment, they called and gave me the same excuse. I had to book another month out. So, here I am, two months overdue, and they called me again the day before my appointment to reschedule. Come on. There is no way on earth they still haven’t found a hygienist, and even if they really haven’t, isn’t it about time they give someone else the shaft? I even told them this is the third time they’ve done this to me and all they’d say is that the doctor told them which patients needed to be rescheduled. I didn’t reschedule. I will probably just go find another Elgin dentist. But, this is all too weird. If they don’t want me as a patient, they should just say something. I don’t know what I could have done to deserve this, but I don’t see how it could be a coincidence anymore. Do doctors ever have “blacklists” of patients they don’t want to see for whatever reason?
You’re right. Something odd is happening at this particular office. The thing is, dentists can, and do, “dismiss” patients from their practice. This is usually reserved for someone who refuses to pay for services, doesn’t follow the doctor’s recommendations, or somehow acts belligerent or rude to the staff. It’s so rare for someone to do this, that there are dentists who never do this their entire careers, while others might do it once every few years. Moreover, the doctor has to have a good reason for doing this and there’s typically a protocol involved, which includes documenting the issue, notifying the patient, and then staying on as their dentist for a period of time to give them the opportunity to find alternative care. It’s possible your office is trying to avoid this or trying to avoid a problematic dismissal by putting you off until you get frustrated enough to leave on your own. Proving this would be near impossible, and it doesn’t make sense that this would be the case if you’ve genuinely been respectful with the office.
The alternatives are that, perhaps the office end of things is poorly run or maybe you really are being blacklisted from prime appointment spots. Sadly, a handful of unethical offices do behave this way towards patients with HMO plans. The difference being that with most HMO plans, you pay a small portion, and that’s all the dentist receives, so your total visit may bring in $50 or something, whereas a PPO patient may bring in $150-200. Some doctors will accept this hit in fees and try to provide everyone with the same level of care, and others, as you noted, won’t accept HMOs at all because they don’t feel they can provide quality care with such a small amount coming in. If either is the case with you, this too, will be almost impossible to prove.
You have a couple of options here; move on and find a new Elgin dentist, or try to work things out with this one. If you decide to try to work things out, you’ll need to speak with the dentist himself. If his staff is acting in accordance with his wishes, at least you’ll know that and will be able to move on with a clear conscience. If his staff isn’t treating patients the way he expects, you can bet he’ll move swiftly to rectify the situation. Best of luck to you.
This blog is sponsored by Dr. Steve Sirin.