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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dental Denouement? Comments Solicited

In the never-ending story of the dentist, another irritation. We received notice of a certified letter about a week ago. We filled out the little slip, requesting the the letter be left in our mailbox. A few days later, we found the slip squished underneath our mail. The carrier had not seen it.

OK. We clipped the slip to the box, only to find that we needed to PRINT our names in addition to signing. We did that, and....nothing. We fear the letter has been returned to sender. So angry is the dentist with us, that we assume she will take the return as a hostile action on our part!

I guess we could go to the post office and inquire, but that will take close to an hour and I forbade Mr FS from doing that. I figure the dentist will have to re-send it.

Anyway, here is a letter we are going to send to the dentist. Is this a good idea? And, if it is, do you have any suggestions for revision? Any tone problems?

We received notice of a certified letter from you more than a week ago. We signed the form left in our box and requested delivery, but have not received it. If the letter was to inform us that we were dismissed from your practice, you can take this letter as acknowledgement of that fact. If there is other information in the letter that we need to see, we request that you send it again. Thank you.

Mar 17 (6 days ago)

Last spring 2013, you recommended treatments for Mr. FS costing approximately $5000. T told you he would have to wait till January 2014 to begin treatment because he had to set money aside in a medical savings account. He did so. As I told you in our chat in January, we were eager to continue working with you because we appreciate your work as a dentist.

Tom called several times over the past few weeks to 1. get a list of the recommended treatments and cost breakdown and 2. make appointments to begin treatments. He did not receive the list of treatments or an appointment. He stopped by your office since we live down the street and were taking a walk nearby. He was hoping to get the treatment list and to make an appointment. At that point, you told him that our family was dismissed from your practice. He was quite stunned by that pronouncement. 

In addition to the list of treatments you recommended and an appointment, we had two other requests, neither of which we received. 

1. We asked Marilyn to give us the contact information from the Collection Agency so we could check on the records. Marilyn said she did not have that information.

2. We also asked for a letter outlining the events that led up to the bill being sent to collection. We told your office that we would pay Em's remaining bill in December. We called several times in December, but the office was closed. We left a message with your service stating that we wanted to pay and to call us for credit card info. We did not receive a call back. In early January, we called again to complete the payment. We gave Marilyn our credit card info, after which she stated that the bill had just been sent to a collection agency and that she would try to stop it. 

Marilyn then checked the email records from your answering service and said that she had overlooked the message about payment from December. She apologized and said that it was her mistake. We were appreciative of that statement.

A few weeks later, our daughter received a call from the Collection Agency. We were distressed to discover that the Collection Agency was given her name, since Em was a college student and the bills were guaranteed by US, her parents. We are afraid that a spot on her credit rating could have repercussions in the future, long after your office might be closed. 

That is why we requested a letter showing that we had made an effort to pay BEFORE the bill was sent to collection and that your office made the initial error. 

Even though we are no longer your patients, we would appreciate
1. a list of the treatments recommended for T.
2. the contact info for the Collection Agency
3. The letter with a timeline as outlined above.

Thank you for your consideration,


tess said...

The tone is very polite and outline of events clear.

Maybe suggest getting records and x-rays transferred to new place or to you?

Good luck.

dotsybabe said...

Get the records and Xrays FIRST -- and ask for this in writing if need be. Once they are in the possession of the new DDS, then send your letter. I would just focus on the collection issue and drop all the other issues, which, due to the new DDS, are now non-issues.

Patience_Crabstick said...

What amazing bad luck with the certified letter! This has turned into a regular saga.

I think your letter is a good letter and should be sent. I also think you deserve a full explanation as to why you were dismissed.
It might be prudent to check the laws in your state to see if a dentist can legally withhold your records, although I am pretty sure they may not.

Gam Kau said...

The letter seems appropriate, but I agree you should focus first on your records and xrays. You can just go in and ask for them, and also explain about the certified letter while you are there. Once you have those then I would focus on the collection issue as Dotsy suggested. You might want to report this to the Better Business Bureau just to make a point that sending the bill off to the collection agency was inappropriate.
This is such a ridiculous situation - sending good thoughts your way this will all be resolved shortly.

dotsybabe said...

If I were in this situation, I would decide what my priorities are. It would seem that getting the dental records and X-rays (you've paid for them and would have to pay for duplicates if these were "lost") would be my first priority since Mr. FS is facing extensive dental work. Once accomplished, I would focus on expunging the collection "black mark" from your daughter's account. The fact that she is currently out of the country and that you (her parents) made a good faith effort to pay the bill (and indeed paid it) should be provided in writing to the collection agency. The name of the collection agency should be provided by the old DDS. But if they don't provide it, get your daughter's credit report and try to find this yourself. Generally, this kind of small one-time collection can be resolved with the collection agency and/or with all 3 credit report services (and contact all 3). I'd forget the "dismissal" issue and move on. The old DDS has serious office management issues but, hey, that's her problem not yours. Your focus should be the financial and physical health of your family. If the certified letter ever shows up (and I wouldn't bother letting the old DDS know about the scenario of the missed signature slip) and it has new information that needs action or rebuttal, well, then develop a strategy based on that reality. This has been an emotional roller coaster, it seems, and perhaps physic and physical (as in not seeing her or her staff) distance from the old DDS will let the volatility of the situation dissipate. If you can't get the dental records and X-rays, well, then, launch a full-scale campaign with the state licensing agency, BBB, LDA, etc. Good luck, and keep on smiling! That's a major reason we have teeth (that and eating).

Duchesse said...

I may be the lone dissenting opinion here but I would try to get the letter- your PO may be holding it. A detailed review of who did/said what-including the fact that you live down the street-is unlikely to be read if you were dismissed.

If you were dismissed, only the last para, slightly altered so that your requests do not refer to preceding paragraphs, will be needed.

If the letter says you were not dismissed, then you can use some or all of this letter, depending on what you want to say.

The Frugal Shrink said...

I cannot believe how this situation has spiraled out of control! I don't have anything to add beyond what your other readers have said. I hope this is resolved SOON!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Everybody--Thanks everyone for your excellent suggestions 9and commiseration). We will call the post office tomorrow and see if we can track down the letter Our area p.o. is understaffed and has many issues.

I guess I don't really expect our letter to be read, but I wanted a record of our perspective and actions. We have made an appointment with a new dentist and I think I will have the dentist request the records. The dentist was recommended by the husband (a near-retired dentist) who is the husband of a teacher we know.

I cannot tell you how grateful we are for all the comments.

Shelley said...

Sounds really neutral and polite to me. A little scary to hear that not only is the business ethic of the private sector apparently non-existent, but the public sector is also falling apart.