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Online patient reviews significantly changing the way dentists interact with patients DDU survey

9 May 2017

Dental professionals are becoming increasingly concerned by negative reviews published on online ratings sites according to new research published by the Dental Defence Union (DDU).

The DDU surveyed 90 members and found that:

  • half of dentists (50%) who responded stated that they changed the way they practiced for example, making more detailed notes and communicating more carefully with patients
  • 30.8% of those surveyed felt that online patient reviews were detrimental to the dentist/patient relationship
  • however, 28.6% disagreed and thought that critical patient reviews could help dentists understand the needs of their patients
  • 26.3% of dentists dealt with the critical review directly with the patient.

Of those surveyed, the DDU discovered that a customer service issue (54.5%) was the main allegation raised in the negative review. This was followed by competence or conduct issues (13.6%) and a failure to treat patients (9.1%). Also, the DDU found that members were more likely to seek advice from colleagues (42.1% of all respondents) than their defence organisation (15.8% of all respondents).

Leo Briggs, Deputy Head of the DDU commented:

'At the DDU, one of our core services is to provide expert dento-legal advice to our members, who can call us any time they find themselves facing a difficult situation such as when a patient has posted a negative review. Calling our advice line is free, treated in the strictest of confidence and does not affect future subscriptions.

'We speak to tens of thousands of members every year so we can often pre-empt the kinds of problems that can cause members worry. Consequently, we encourage them to call for advice and support as early as possible.'

You can find out more about dealing with online criticism here.

This guidance was correct at publication on 09/05/2017. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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