I had the side of my face swell up. I knew this was likely some kind of dental emergency, but couldn’t afford to go to my dentist. He’s sort of high end, because, for most part, I believe you get what you pay for. I decided I needed an affordable dentist for this, which I was sure would be a simple procedure that any general dentist could do. Worst case scenario, I’d need a root canal. I was so mistaken. He looked at the tooth and did decide it needed a root canal. He was doing the procedure. I’ve had root canals before, so I know what to expect. This guy was awful. He jerked by face everywhere, grumbled under his breath, and even said a few words I wouldn’t think would be appropriate in a profesional setting. Then there was a crack and he cursed and stormed out of the room. He comes back and says the tooth has to be extracted. I agreed. Then I get a bill and he’d charged me for both procedures, including his botched one. I tried talking to the office about it, but they said I shouldn’t expect him to work for free. Do I have any recourse?
Kerri L. – South Carolina
This is a tricky situation. While he does deserve to be paid for his job, it’s bad form to charge for a botched procedure, especially for a dentist who advertises as an “affordable dentist“. Those patients generally don’t have a lot of discretionary money to begin with. There are three possible options you can do to deal with the billing.
First, I’d try calling and speaking directly to the dentist, instead of the billing department. It’s possible the dentist will admit he shouldn’t have charged you for the root canal treatment gone wrong.
If that doesn’t work, you can bring your x-rays to your regular dentist. Of course, that will require explaining why you went to another dentist. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can always go to a completely different dentist for a second opinion. Some dentists even do free dental exams. IF the dentist says you were misdiagnosed, there’s a good chance you can get your money back.
Barring that, you can try the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Whether you will get any money back will mostly depend on the skill of their dispute resolution specialist.
I’m sorry you’ve had this experience. If you find yourself in another bind, you may just talk to your dentist about the situation. He (or she) would likely allow you to work out a payment plan, especially because you’re an established patient.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Ryan Perry.