- The most important goal of treatment is to meet or exceed patient expectations
- Unmet expectations of a functional nature or stemming from discomfort or pain, are usually easier to identify and address than esthetic deficiencies
- In case of unmet expectations patients will be more understanding of the circumstances if the dentist has shown true caring for the patient.
Continuous dialogue with patient
Addressing the patient’s chief complaints satisfactorily and meeting patient expectations lies at the core of all dental therapy. The best way to ensure that patient expectations are met or exceeded is by thoughtful listening during the diagnosis and treatment planning phases and then by regular reference to those initial goals during treatment.
Managing unmet patient expectation
Occasionally, despite the best of intentions and excellent technical treatment, a patient’s expectations will not be met. Acknowledging the patient’s disappointment in a sensitive manner and working with the patient to improve the treatment outcomes is the best way to address the situation while preserving the dentist-patient relationship. Patients will be more understanding of the circumstances surrounding their disappointment if the dentist has shown true caring for the patient.
If the unmet expectations are of an esthetic nature, the subjective response of the patient and his/her family and friends must be considered. Sometimes a patient can point to a specific issue that, if rectified, will address the concerns. However, sometimes a patient is not satisfied but cannot pinpoint the reason for their unease. These situations are particularly difficult for both patient and clinician.
Unmet expectations of a functional nature or stemming from discomfort or pain, are usually easier to identify and address than esthetic deficiencies. However, here too, if the problem is subjective in nature, resolution can be challenging. Regardless, a caring and soothing discourse with the dissatisfied patient is the best path forward.