If you practice long enough, you will experience a situation where a patient touches or sexually harasses a staff member. Most staff members are young and often attractive women and every blue moon you will have a patient that thinks your office is the local gentleman’s club. I don’t understand the logic but I have seen this behavior happen a number of times over my career.
Normally, the dentist can stop this behavior by nicely asking the patient to cool it. It takes a little finesse and humor but the offender typically backs down once it has been pointed out that he is out of line.
On one occasion the offender would not stop being inappropriate. We changed staff members working on the patient and finished the procedure at hand and then we dismissed the patient.
Next, we sent an official letter from the office informing the patient that he should seek further treatment elsewhere. We said that we would be happy to send his records and X-rays to his next dental office and wished him well.
We did NOT mention the reason for asking the patient to change dental offices. We figured that the patient knew and there was no reason to inflame the situation further. We just wanted the patient never to return to our offices while leaving the least amount of collateral damage. The patient never inquired as to why we asked him to leave.
If you are wondering why we finished the dental treatment and just did not kick the patient out of the office at the time of the offense – there are several reasons. (1) We did not want to escalate the situation by accusing the patient of sexual harassment. He might have started to argue or become a larger problem in the office. (2) We did not want to be left with a patient abandonment problem – a legal problem.
Dr. Corey Gold
President - Advanced Continuing Education Systems
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