Thousands of patient complaints about dentists

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Complaints from patients about dentists are increasing. Growing criticism from patients about treating dentists.

Every year, the Independent Patient Counseling Service (UPD) receives numerous complaints from German citizens who complain about the misconduct of their treating doctor. By far the most complaints about dentists were recorded, while the behavior of general practitioners was relatively little criticized.

UDP has now examined the figures for the first half of 2010 in a study and published them in Berlin on Monday. The figures show that this year at least 40,000 people have visited one of the 22 nationwide UPD positions. However, every fifth of them had to make a specific complaint about a doctor, as the managing director of UDP, Astrid Burkhardt, explained. Overall, the majority of complaints were directed against hospitals and clinics, nursing homes and doctors with their own practice, said Burkhardt. However, the statutory health insurers were also criticized relatively frequently, as can be seen in the UDP report.

Of the approximately 8,000 complaints that UDP received about treating doctors, a good 30 percent were directed against dentists. This places the dentists at the top of the list of complaints by far, although possible treatment errors are rarely the starting point for criticism, but presumes incorrect statements by dentists. According to the UDP, general practitioners are criticized far less than dentists, despite the significantly higher number of patients. Only 17.5 percent of the complaints were directed against general practitioners. The patients were very satisfied with the services of the pediatricians. Only 0.8 percent of all complaints concerned pediatricians, which was by far the least among the listed groups of doctors.

Because patients have had to pay more and more dental services out of their own pockets in recent years, the number of complaints about overpayments has risen significantly in parallel, the managing director of UDP explained the growing dissatisfaction with the dental treatments. In addition, Stefan Etgeton, health expert of the Federal Association of Consumer Centers, emphasized that "the cost allocation directly through the health insurance companies (...) has a peacemaking effect". The expert therefore warned against transferring the personal excess common in dental treatment to other medical areas, as had been attempted as part of the current health care reform.

According to his own information, Wolfgang Zöller, patient representative of the federal government, will soon be dealing with the results of the current report by the independent patient counseling service. The Federal Government will evaluate the patient counseling report with a special focus on the role of dentists, said Zöller in a statement on the current UDP figures. Subsequently, Zöller plans to submit a proposal by the end of December to further strengthen the rights of patients in Germany. After discussion and appropriate amendment, this could then be formulated as a draft law in 2011 and passed by the Federal Government. (fp)

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