How to Handle Patient Emergencies During the Holidays

December 16, 2019by Lisa Philip
Horizontal color image of female dentist holding digital tablet in dental clinic office, sitting, smiling and looking at camera. Female doctor wearing white uniform, blue surgical mask and gloves. Dental equipment in the background.

If there’s one constant in the Universe, it’s that one (or more) of your patients will suffer an emergency as soon as you head off on vacation. It doesn’t matter if you’re celebrating your 50th birthday or attending your daughter’s wedding. The stars will align to flair up an infection or knock out a tooth at just the wrong time. The holidays are no exception.

Depending on where you received your dental training, you might not be aware of the rules regarding emergency care during off-hours. Most professional associations require their members to provide patients with clear instructions on accessing after-hours advice and treatment.

As Simple as an Automated Message? 

According to some dental consulting experts, leaving a message to patients who call your office in search of help covers your liabilities. Before taking the easy way out, ask yourself a few questions first:

  • Am I certain this resource will be available? Your practice won’t be the only one closed over the holidays.
  • Can my patients count on this resource for help? Some dentists refer patients to emergency rooms, for instance, in areas where the local services must refuse treatment as there is no dental specialist on-staff.
  • How can I go the extra mile? Over-delivering on customer service is never appreciated more than in emergencies.

Organizations like the British Columbia Dental Association call on dentists to provide their patients with emergency after-hour care or to ensure another alternative is available. The good news is you don’t have to sacrifice all your free time to be a dependable healthcare provider.

You can manage your responsibilities during the holidays by:

  • Coordinating with nearby dental clinics
  • Familiarizing yourself with hospital-based resources, and
  • Addressing common patient concerns on your website

Before you give up your next vacation, invest a few hours in preparing your patients for your time off.

Out of ideas for solutions to your dental practice challenges? Contact TGNA Practice Management for help.

– The TGNA Team

Lisa Philip