Poor decisions are costly

Jan. 1, 1999
I read with interest the article, "Patient loss after sale," by Gary Schaub in the September issue. It is something that all buyers of a dental practice should read.

Henry M. Swenson, DDS

Indianapolis, IN

I read with interest the article, "Patient loss after sale," by Gary Schaub in the September issue. It is something that all buyers of a dental practice should read.

As a practicing periodontist and dental school instructor for 50 years in a city close to one million, I have seen buyers who have lost much more than 20 percent due to poor decisions. This may be related to a self-perceived higher standard care of patients, but I believe it is frequently dollar-motivated.

When a doctor buys a practice, he/she should realize that the seller, in the eyes of the patients, is a god or superman. What other good reason would they have for staying in the practice for so many years? However, it should be anticipated that the buyer will have different ideas on how the practice should be run. This difference should not be a great problem if it is approached tactfully and slowly. The difficulty arises on the first appointment. The new dentist may see work that, in his eyes, is substandard and might need further treatment. If it is not tooth-threatening, it would be in his/her best interest to point out areas in question and inform the patient that treatment might be necessary in the future. The young dentist may not be aware that this functional, but defective, alloy has been satisfactory for many years. If the patient is forewarned of this potential problem, he/she would be more acceptable to treatment later on.

I would encourage all prospective buyers of a dental practice to read Gary Schaub`s article. He emphasizes keeping all the office help intact and avoiding drastic changes to the office if you can tolerate what you see. This includes even keeping the pictures on the wall. Make changes slowly if the patient`s mouth is not being compromised.

Any dental treatment that is not tooth-threatening, is comfortable, and is esthetically pleasing should be delayed for six months to a year. The patient should be told that some work may need to be done, but will be observed for the present. With this approach, the patient will be more amenable to accepting treatment in the future and a very small percentage of patients will be lost.

Before you can harvest the grain, the seed must be planted and the grain must mature.

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