San Francisco, CA (PressExposure) July 09, 2008 -- Nearly half of dentists complain that other dentists or employees have stolen dental patients from their practices, according to a recent survey by dental marketing resource The Wealthy Dentist. Fully 44% of dentist respondents reported that former colleagues have tried to take patients with them to their next job.
Many feel that stealing dental patients is a rampant problem. "Every GP associate I've had has attempted to (and probably succeeded at) stealing patients," sighed a California dentist. "It's like inviting someone into your home, then finding your silverware is missing after they leave."
A New Jersey dentist shared a story of dental patients being re-routed to another practitioner. "A Financial Coordinator worked for 5 weeks with us. After she left, I realized that every patient she scheduled never showed up for their appointment, even after getting credit approval. One patient told us he had gone to another dental office for treatment after talking to the so-called Financial Coordinator. She was calling my patients from her cell phone and diverting them to her previous employer."
However, not all dentists had bad things to say. "I had an employee leave our practice due to her husband's job transfer," wrote a North Carolina dentist. "She returned to the area a year later. She started working for another dentist in the area who pressured her to contact patients she had come to know while working for us. She refused, and has subsequently left that practice. I applaud her integrity."
Is it "patient-stealing" when a specialist never refers the patient back to the original doctor for treatment? Many feel that it is. "I did refer a patient to a periodontist for implant placement expecting to get the patient back for restorative work, only to find that the periodontist also placed the ceramometal restorations - very poorly," complained a New Jersey dentist.
A California periodontist described the challenges of purchasing a dental practice. "I bought a periodontal practice and kept two previous staff members. After two weeks, the hygienist decided to work for a general practice down the street. When she asked if she could tell her patients where she would be working, I told her that those patients belong to my practice. A month later, her new employer took out a full-page ad in the newspaper announcing she was now working in his office."
That periodontist also faced problems with the dentist from whom he had purchased the practice. "The previous doctor sent letters to all the patients and told them where he was now practicing, instead of introducing me to the community like he agreed. The front desk that stayed with me was sending my charts to the previous doctor. It has been five years now and the practice has finally recovered, but it was a nightmare!"
"Wow!" said Jim Du Molin, dental management consultant and founder of dental practice marketing website The Wealthy Dentist. "Stealing patients is old news in dentistry, but some of the horror stories still amaze me. Routing calls through your cell phone back to your previous employer? Amazing."