The IDA Dental Complaints Resolution Service (DCRS) acts as an
independent third party to help resolve complaints made by patients
against dentists in private practice. This service has become
increasingly relevant due to the increase in claims brought against
dentists and the number of complaints being made to the Dental
Council. A willingness by parties to seek an amicable
resolution reduces the number of matters being brought before the
courts. The DCRS process also reduces the stress on both the
dentist and the patient.
According to the Journal of The Irish Dental Association, it has been reported by Michael Kilcoyne, mediator with the service, that over 130 complaints were handled by the DCRS in 2013. Mr Kilcoyne received over 260 phone calls and over 1,230 emails.
This resulted in 130 complaint applications being submitted to the service, of which 28 complaints have now been resolved in full and the remaining 102 are currently being processed. The vast majority of the complaints received relate to disagreements or misunderstandings in relation to professional fees, difficulties with communication and adverse clinical outcomes.
The average length of time to resolve a complaint is about two months, but can vary from two weeks to six months depending on the complexity of the complaint and the attitudes of the parties involved. Dentists are being encouraged to seek relevant advice from their defence organisation when a complaint is received. According to the Annual Report 2012 of the DCRS, this voluntary service is proving to be very effective in resolving disputes and the Dental Council has recorded a reduction in the number of complaints it has had to deal with.
The engagement of dentists is welcomed by the DCRS and feedback from dentists points towards the DCRS being a successful initiative. According to the Journal of the Irish Dental Association, a resolution service such as DCRS helps in enhancing the confidence in standards of care and treatment provided by Irish dentists.
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