Fairness to Injured Alberta Dental Patients Proposal
Fairness to Injured Alberta Dental Patients Proposal
Why this petition matters
Most dental patients can't believe the fact that less than 1% of money collected from Alberta dentists following discipline with the dental authority goes to the victims.
This is money from dentists found GUILTY of Misconduct. Close to 99% is soaked up by 'health' authority lawyers, their hired experts (often former dental authority insiders) and the tribunal committee (dentist jury) who are often former presidents and their friends. Only recently has the dental jury been forced to include an equal number of public representatives, but apparently even this isn't helping change the numbers.
We have successfully petitioned the dental authority to roll back crazy rules including a ban on free consultations and use of before and after photos. They used to even ban Senior Discounts. We pushed for removal of a Complaint Director who failed to do her job. We even saw the gov't grant our greatest wish and forced division of the 'college' disciplinary side from the 'association' (pro-dentist) side...but there is more to do.
The Health Professions Act clearly states a tribunal can award a patient a refund of the cost of the treatment in question. This is not for pain and suffering or future repair- it is simply identifying the money the patient spent for the dental treatment in question. Imagine spending $1000 on problematic dental procedures which the dental college investigates and pushes through a hearing at tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the dentist admits guilt and everyone gets paid but you?
This is EXACTLY what is happening in most complaints, which incidentally are taking up to 5-9 years to get finalized. Alberta's dental authority has been cited as the most costly, the most lengthy and the least transparent of all health authorities across the country. Alberta dentists are paying more than twice the costs of other provinces and yet the patients are getting less than 1%.
You may think this is just about teeth. Unfortunately this can be a senior whose complaint about a poor fitting denture has her wearing her old broken one for over a year. It can be a young patient who was convinced to crown all her teeth as a 'TMJ' cure when it wasn't necessary- dooming her to premature loss of her teeth. It may be a patient told she needed her lip or tongue attachment cut loose for some unscientifically verified excuse and now she suffers because she listened to the experts.
Instead of hiring former dental experts - dentists, assistants and hygienists- the Alberta dental authority is hiring lawyers and ex-police officers whose total dental background is zero. They also fail to assign experts in a prompt manner to review the evidence - usually a few pages of chart notes, some X-rays and the dentist's commentary. How long does this really need to take? Victims get used to the letters reminding them they are 'working on it' as mandated every 30-60 days but this drags on for years.
The authority lawyers then may choose to negotiate a settlement with a dentist - totally forgetting the patient's costs- but always remembering the legal costs of their prolonged exercise of 'protecting the public'. This is truly an embarrassment to Alberta's healthcare system.
What needs to happen?
It's very simple. The authority lawyers, the dentist, the tribunal (jury) and the victim needs to be reminded from the start of every investigation and every hearing that the Health Professions Act allows for the jury to assign a refund. If a dentist is found guilty of misconduct related to the treatment some % of the fee - up to 100%- should be refunded. The cost of determining the refund or the dentist's skills should not be allowed to be 100- 1000 TIMES the cost of the refund (literally). It should be capped at 5 TIMES unless death, brain injury or paralysis are involved to a maximum of $20,000. There must be a NEW incentive to get these cases completed in a timely manner and not milked for years of billable lawyer hours.
"Bad Dentists" are rarely given restricted licenses - allowing them to do things they can and not things they appear unable to do. The standard cure is an ethics class, time off and a money grab that does NOTHING to protect the public. The dental authority doesn't even have a list of courses that qualify for re-training of problem area. In fact the ADA&C has long stood behind promotion of seminars that are linked to over-treatment. Dentists taking certain courses have a higher rate of malpractice and professional complaints. Course content is simply not being reviewed for scientific validity and it is often designed to make the course sponsor and the dentist more money.
If dental authority lawyers settle a case with a dentist and FORGET the patient may be entitled to a REFUND according to the Alberta Health Professions Act they currently respond 'patients do not always get a refund.' What should happen? The lawyer and or the dental authority should provide a 100% refund to the patient. An audit of all cases going back 12 years is necessary. If lawyers have made this error twice or more they should be dismissed as they failed to consider their main responsibility to the public trust. It is fair and it is overdue.
If public members on council refuse to bring this simple guideline into law it is important to find an MLA or public person to continue to lobby for this change. The more people that sign and share with their political representative (any party) the sooner this will happen.
- Honourable Jason CoppingHealth Minister of Alberta
- Public Members - Alberta Dental CollegeAlberta Dental College (new name coming soon)