When Doctors (Dentists) Overcharge

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3 Sep 2016 - General

I've encountered many overcharging stories in my 10 years in practice. Some I cannot argue with because pricing is really the doctor's/dentist's prerogative. Sometimes we also encounter underpricing and it's ridiculous too (i.e. low downpayment on braces) because it cheapens the practice. Sometimes I encounter patients who insist they have porcelain crowns, but I know and I am looking at a plastic crown and it's hard to explain to them that their previous dentist tricked them into thinking she paid for porcelain. I also see patients who claim they received a root canal, but radiographs reveal zero pulp manipulation. Either the dentist lied to them or the patient is lying to me (or understood differently). 

Anyway, i know this will sound like gossiping but it's been troubling me for awhile. In the multispecialty clinic I work for overcharging is practice because it's commission basis work.I told you that's fine because all charging is computerized and we choose through a range of prices when we set our final rates, so basically it's okay. Now there's this dentist who is known to really break quota all the time, and she rakes in commissions. I know her personally and I've worked with her. There were times when I questioned her treatment methods but it's really her call. And then this happened (I will try my best to define the dental terms):

A patient came in. Her final bill was Php100,000+. End point procedure: dental crowns. The thing is, she installed crowns on a few teeth but before she did, she charged the patient for: tooth build-up (reshaping teeth); laminates (composite veneers or facial covering); post and core buildup (putting post on a root canal treated tooth) on top of the crowns. This means that she shaped the tooth to perfection, esthetically restored the tooth, gave it posts and then destroyed/prepared the same teeth for crowns. I posted a tooth preparation for a bridge so you understand, in case you dont. Neither of the teeth were root canal treated because no xrays were taken. The assistant also said she never used posts, she just charged it. And now, people are talking about her. Some bullies have written on her charge slip--FAKE--it's awful. But you see, she did an awful thing. I saw her charge slip. Even if she did put posts, the redundant charges were all uncalled for. if one day the patient discovers what happened, it gives not just a bad impression on her, but on all dentists who will be seen as con-men/liars.

This pains me because I feel really bad for patients who think they received proper care and didn't. When patients come to me convinced they received a root canal and post, but I couldn't find any evidence of such, it's always hard to break it to them. 

By the way, this is not the first time she's done this. One time she charged perio surgery on a patient for 30,000 per quadrant when she only performed deep scaling. I don't know if she knows the difference between the two or if she deliberately overcharged, but when I saw that she didn't administer anesthesia and didn't flap open the gums, I knew it was a simple deep scale which is about 3,000 per quadrant. 

What can you say about this? I want to talk to her, but I don't know how to even begin? What would you do if you were in my position?



Okay I just messaged my friend. She hasn't talked to her. She's scared. But she said she will try tomorrow. I think talking about these things is really hard, but it has to be done. She might find it offensive, but in the end, we are all accountable for each other's work right (somehow)? Yes it makes sense why our government doesn't provide enough laws for this but they also should ...
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That clears things up. It would do more harm than good to take the issue to higher authority then. I feel that you are not in the best position to tell her if you haven't been talking for months. However, you can try if you are really cocerned that her position in the clinic is in peril. Someone has to tell her anyway. Jennifer Winter is right. These incidents can lead to serious criminal charges and she has ...
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Looks like she's doing it on purpose Maria Cristina Inserto Unfortunately, Philippine laws do not protect the patients and insurances from such. Since Western medicine is highly reliant on goverment/private insurances, the federal government of US created a law, called Stark's law. (Don't ask why I know about this) It's a law that is designed to protect citizens and insurances from fraudulent bill...
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Mark Edmon Tan Jennifer Winter You remember my story about new dentists vs old dentists? Well, she's one of the new dentists and so I used to hangout with her before (when the feud was at its peak), but I haven't been with her for months because our schedules have changed. Anyway she isn't my senior as we're all eq...
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That is quite a story. In my opinion, she has repeatedly violated the code of healthcare ethics. We offer services that will be for the patient's best interests. She was deliberately hoodwinking patients into thinking they received appropriate treatment and it is sad. You are right Maria Cristina Inserto. The public will not be comfortable if these incidents surfaces to the news circle. As for your dilemma, th...
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Well that really is a delicate situation but the bottom line is something needs to be done about this. We all took oaths. They are not laws but they are ethical standards that we need to follow. Not upholding ethical standards can be dealt with by the Philippine Dental Association and she might get suspension on her license. I am not a lawyer but this kind of cheating could also fall under "Estafa" and she will have a criminal offense. To avoid leading to her losing her license or gett...
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