Quintessential Quality

Dentist Do’s & Don’t’s

Now that I’ve been blogging for a little while, I’m starting to get some great recommendations and inspiration from my readers.  This post was inspired by a story from my boss about a very bad quality experience at the dentist’s office.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I despise the dentist.  Just thinking about all the scraping, poking, and drilling makes me cringe, so you can only imagine my dread when boss began to tell me about a poor experience she had at the dentist’s office.  So with grit teeth and trembling fingers, here’s her dental horror story…

It all began with a simple cavity fill.  Could this all have been prevented through good dental maintenance?  Maybe, but that’s fuel for another post and I need to get back to the story.  The procedure began normally with a thorough cleaning and a couple shots of novocain, but soon turned to a scene from one of the Saw movies.  A little bit of discomfort is normal during a dental procedure, however, the pain that began shooting through my boss’ tooth and jaw as the enamel was drilled away was anything but normal.  In a testament to her strength and will, she was able to suffer through filling and left the office feeling sore, but also relieved that the work was finished.

Unfortunately, a few days later the tooth ache remained and every time she bit down there was a sharp jolt of pain.  My boss was sure that the filling was botched and returned to the dentist to have it fixed.  Now, I was expecting the dentist to be extremely apologetic and begging for forgiveness, but I was sorely mistaken.  The dentist actually blamed the problem on my boss!  According to the dentist, my boss did not floss properly and somehow some bacteria got underneath the filling.  When that excuse was refuted, then dentist blamed the problem on a misaligned bite.  After absolving herself of the blame, the dentist reluctantly re-filled the cavity, and happily collected her payment for a 2nd treatment.

So how does this mini nightmare relate to quality?  Let’s start with the problems.  Obviously the first filling was flawed.  Fillings are the dentist’s product and that product should be defect free.  Second, the dentist was made aware of an error and made no effort to investigate the problem and find the root cause.  The dentist didn’t even take responsibility for the mistake and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.  What would I have done?  First, I would have apologized for the entire length of the follow up visit.  I would have then taken immediate corrective action to fix the tooth and correct my mistake.  While I was re-filling the tooth I would have investigated what went wrong, and how I could prevent the problem from ever happening again.  Finally, I would have performed the second filling free of charge and would have refunded the charge for the first filling.

We will always make mistakes and there will be plenty of times when we drop the ball, but it’s how we react and recover that truly makes the difference.

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