The Need for Clear, Honest Communication

Gosh (via the Hillsboro Argus):

According to reports, 39-year-old Jeffrey Dean Pettijohn was arrested after he physically attacked a dentist he believed was being too rough with his pregnant girlfriend, who was having a tooth pulled.

Police say Pettijohn became irate when his girlfriend Jennie Arnholz left the appointment just after noon and told him her dentist, Dr. Charles Kersch, was mean to her in pulling her tooth and had a poor chairside manner to boot.

Pettijohn thought this was adding insult to injury, as Arnholz could not be given numbing medication due to her expectant condition.

But police say Pettijohn may have bitten off more than he could chew when he went back into the office 2251 SE Tualatin Valley Highway and gave Kersch a piece of his mind. Witnesses said the verbal confrontation became physical when Pettijohn pushed the dentist a couple of times before both men fell to the floor.

Suffice it to say, this is not the ideal way to handle such a situation.

Now, we don’t know what went on in the dental office or how the dentist actually treated his patient, though we wonder about the statement about her not being able to have anesthetic due to her pregnancy. While it’s always safest for pregnant women to delay any elective treatment, there’s no requirement that she endure pain if treatment can’t be delayed. Except in relatively rare or special cases, local anesthetic may be safely used, as may low level nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), which has both pain-killing and calming qualities.

Did the dentist actually deny pain relief? Did the patient misunderstand what he may have said about options for anesthetic? Did the patient misreport the dentist’s words to her boyfriend or did he misunderstand her?

Obviously, we’re in no position to say.

But what we can say is this: even if the dentist actually was “rough” and “mean,” going to his office and beating him up is no solution.

What is a solution? Clear, honest communication.

It can be hard to speak up or question doctors of all sorts, seeing as how they’re often held up as all-knowing authority figures. Some can seem intimidating. But it’s important that you let your health care providers know if you’re uncomfortable or don’t understand what’s going on or whatever the issue might be. The doctor can’t read your mind. And if you don’t like his or her manner; if he or she avoids your questions, brushes off your concerns or acts in an otherwise negative fashion, seek the services of another. Look for someone with whom you can speak comfortably, who you feel understands your needs and concerns and can provide you with treatment in a positive environment.

Good treatment outcomes are more likely when these factors are present, when patient and doctor and staff are all on the same page. Clear communication is key – something we strive for in our practice and hope other practices do as well.

Read more about the Power of Communication.

 

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About The Verigin Dental Health Team

A humanistic, holistic dental practice in Northern California, providing integrative, biological, mercury-free dentistry
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