Monday, May 05, 2008

Western Dental Corporation Another Ruthless Dental Mill?

An Open Letter To Western Dental Reposted Here From The Hive Blog
Comments To Post At The Bottom, also reposted.

Here is the letter:

A letter to the corporate office of Western Dental... An absolutely INHUMANE treatment of low income patients by a facility that is advertised as caring for those with medi-cal or low income with respect and dignity AND great care... FAR FROM THE TRUTH
To whom it may concern:

Please accept this letter as my personal and adamant request for the services rendered and the absolutely filthy conditions of your Western Dental office located on Briggsmore Avenue in Modesto California to undergo some SERIOUS investigation.

I would like to explain the circumstances which have brought me to this point of complaint... and I'm doing so PRIOR to having received the full service of my initial visit due to the fact that I am absolutely livid over the way in which my dental procedure and status as a patient has been treated by various members of the Western Dental Team which has revealed itself to be an obvious standard for all other patients as well.

My reasoning for visiting WD was purely out of need to be seen on a Saturday and to get a broken tooth fixed by crown procedure prior to my private insurance undergoing changes - regular dental offices are not open on the weekends so.... I made an appointment for 8 am on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2007.

The waiting room was to capacity when I arrived by other patients who had an appointment at either the same time or very near the same time as mine. I waited for over 1/2 an hour before I was even given initial paperwork. The condition of the waiting room was filthy and the staff was beyond disorganized in the procedure of caring for those that should have come first...their patients.

Nearly an hour later I was led back to get X-rays by a very kind technician... yet obviously in a huge hurry due to the large volume of work needing to be done... as a result - I had to be re-xrayed later in the day. It was nearly two hours of my arrival that I was even seen by a doctor. He came in and told me I needed a root canal. Then upon examining my tooth - he admitted that he'd misdiagnosed and that I only had a broken tooth.. This is what I'd already written in my paperwork and had explained to each staff member that I'd come into contact... yet another obvious sign that even the doctor had far too much to do - to the point where reviewing my chart prior to seeing me hadn't even occurred. Again - this man was very kind.

The condition of the facility, was again, very dirty. From the sticky floors to the dirty containers which held materials that were eventually needed in completing my procedure. The facility appeared to not have been cleaned in a substantial amount of time.

Having NO CHOICE but to proceed with this procedure at that time was very frustrating. In all of my years of having dental work done, never before have I ever experienced such deteriorated services and poor conditions in which to have my teeth worked on. I am in full understanding that these offices are typically used by those having state funded insurance programs... to me the treatment received by those people in this office IS SHAMEFUL!!! I feel that by way of lack of care for their scheduling and the lack of cleanliness of the facility your company is essentially telling these people that A. Their time is not important and B. Since they have no other choices, or may not know that they have other choices - they are forced to be treated in filth.

I was at your office for well over three hours and had to leave prior to even getting the cleaning which comes with the service I'd received. The dentist was VERY professional, however once he finished drilling down the broken tooth he left me in the care of, once again, a VERY nice woman who admitted to me that what she was doing, fitting the temp crown, wasn't within her scope of practice... however because of the over scheduling and lack of adequate staff members, she was forced to do the work she isn't even qualified for. It took nearly another 1/2 hour for her to trim the temporary down to even fit...

After I asked if I could do the cleaning at another time as I'd been at their offices for nearly FOUR HOURS - I was clearly told that the crown would be in within 1 to 1 1/2 weeks. I stopped at the front desk - had to actually request to be helped by two staff members who clearly knew I was there yet continued with a very personal conversation - I was told that my portion of the bill would be $400 - I wrote a check for $200 and left.

Four days later the temp fell off - I visited the office that night and was again helped by the same woman..although VERY NICE... admittedly unqualified to do what she was doing. She put a stronger adhesive onto the tooth and sent me on my way.... with a huge gap between the temporary crown and the tooth itself. She said it would be ok as the permanent crown was going to arrive in a couple of days. Well... it hasn't and it's not ok.. it is painful...

Being patient and a rule follower I waited for two weeks and I phone the office to find out where the crown is - I was informed by the woman that answered the phone that no one would have told me 1 1/2 to 2 weeks as it NEVER takes less than THREE weeks to get the crown in. Having NO choice but to wait... I did and in fact have received a bill for UNDER $200 - which makes me grateful that I did not pay the full $400 that they were requesting at my initial visit.

At three weeks, this past Saturday, I phoned again - and after 20 minutes on hold and being called by the incorrect name twice - I was told that it would be yet another week until the crown arrived from the lab.

This was enough. I asked to speak with a floor supervisor and after several minutes of bantering back and forth with this woman about my right to speak with a manager regardless of when the crown would arrive she finally told me to hold on... again placed on hold for a substantial amount of time - only to have the SAME woman pick up the phone and inform me that the floor manager found the crown and it would be in on Monday - period end of sentence. I told her that I still wanted to speak to her - she told me the manager was too busy and that I needed to call her back in 15 minutes. I told her that I would appreciate her taking MY number and having her call ME back when she was free. She never did.

I did lodge a complaint with your corporate office and they were in fact kind. I was uncomfortable when I was describing the current condition of the tooth as being painful and then being corrected by your representative to be told that "oh so it's annoying you?" I received the canned standard answers that are expected when this type of customer service disaster occurs.

Here is my MAIN ISSUE...

If this is honestly the type of service that people with medical are expected to accept than I am horrified by the sad sad misrepresentation which Western Dental is pouring all over the media... had I not had the verbiage and ability to insist that I be treated with the respect that I, as a customer, paying or not paying out of my own pocket deserves.. than I would still be sitting here today with no resolution to this matter - well, in fact I am still sitting here with no resolution to this matter as I still have an improperly fitted temporary - and no absolute security that this suddenly post complaint found crown is even really found at all.

I was told by your corporate office that I was in fact the second complaint about the same property that day... how this could possibly be the first time for this to happen - I find VERY difficult to believe.

What really bothers me are the looks on the faces of the other patients in that office... knowing full well that they are being treated disrespectfully yet perhaps not having the voice or option to speak was a truly truly truly disturbing experience - to make it worse.. I still have to go back there to get the permanent crown placed... I was told by corporate that the staff at the office already knows that it was me complaining to them --- this makes me highly uncomfortable for my return visit.

Western Dental Corporate Staff... I am sincerely hoping that this type of inhumane service being provided to those less fortunate than others changes and changes VERY quickly... you are a huge company and the money is very important I'm sure... however the overworking of your staff in order to squeeze in as many patients that you can --- is, in the process, degrading the very people that pay your bills.

With HUGE hopes that this is resolved,

Comment 1
follow up on this complaint, Yo....don't let it slide. raise a banner if necessary. This should never be tolerated and I am so glad you did not do so for the sake of convenience.

Comment 2
Although, your letter certainly pointed out the problems your encountered during your visit to a Western Dental facility, I can tell you from personal experience and from all of the other complaints I have read about Western Dental, don't expect to receive any kind of acknowledgement or apologies from Western Dental. They are a shady outfit no matter what location you happen to visit.
My husband spent 9 hours at their office in Antioch, CA. According to the law, medical and dental practitioners cannot subject their patients to more than 3-4 hours of treatment or service in a 24 hour period. My husband's dental insurance policy pays contracted providers at 100%. Western Dental is a contract provider with United Concordia (our dental insurance carrier through California Field Inronworkers Union) and they were supposed accept the insurance payment as payment in full. However, Western Dental did not properly bill our insurance company for the services they provided to my husband and as a result, they were subsequently paid less than what they calculated.
Western Dental decided that they would try to bill us for the difference. They started sending us 2-3 collection letters a month and I would call them and explain that we owed them nothing because we had 100% coverage. Then they started making collection call to our home. They would call every other day threatening to send us to collections if we didn't pay. I call the ironworker union and United Concordia to let them know what was going on. However, there wasn't much they could do. I went around and around with Western Dental corporate billing office in Orange, California, and just about everybody I spoke to down there had absolutely no knowledge about the laws governing HMO providers.
Fortunately for us, this is what I do for living . . . . medical billing. I tried and tried to explain to them that what they were doing was against the law. Balance billing and HMO patient is a highly illegal practice. I knew that most patients don't understand the complexities involved in medical billing, so I decided to conduct a rather in depth investigation into Western Dental's billing practices and I discovered that they were doing the same thing to all of ironworkers and their families throughout the State of California.
I concluded that Western Dental practices this illegal billing tactic banking on the fact, that most people don't understand the medical billing and reimbursement policies associated with their insurance carrier. The majority of patients simply trust that their medical or dental provider wouldn't bill them (the patient) unless the amount was truly the patient's responsibility. I believe that Western Dental's main source of profit comes from two aspects of their bsuiness, 1) they provide shipshod treatment to the patients, and 2) they use highly illegal billing tactics in order to coerce their patients into paying them above and beyond the contracted rate that Western Dental has agreed to accept from the patient's insurance carrier.
In order for your story to have any affect on Western Dental, please file a complaint with the following agencies; 1) the ADA (American Dental Association), 2) the California Attorney General's Office, 3) the CDA (California Dental Association), 4) California Board of Dental Examiners, and 5) the California Dept of Consumer Affairs.
If I were you, I would seek out another Dentist's opinion of the work done by Western Dental and ask them to document their opinion in writing as your situation may eventually force you to file a malpractice suit due to the poor dentistry work and pain and suffering that you have already endured and still may endure in the future. Document everything that happens to you as a result of your visit to this Western Dental facility. If your teeth are not properly repaired , you could end up suffering from a multitude of other health issues that can be caused by poor dental treatment. I cannot stress to you enough to please protect yourself by following through with my advised suggestions above, otherwise you will no recourse in case something happens in the future.
Good Luck

Comment 3

Remember the twenty Modesto dentists who were arrested several years ago, for their horrible treatment of children, the elderly, and low-income people on Medi-cal? (As far as I know, they are still waiting for trial. Justice is slow.)
These scams have been popular for many years in other states as well--especially Florida. And that is what they are--scams, just for easy money. Unqualified people have pulled entire mouthfuls of teeth that should never have been pulled. Often screaming children and the elderly were not even given pain medication. In addition,conditions were filthy.
No, these conditions are NOT normal. A dentist's office must be spotless. Otherwise, diseases spread like wildfire. Everyone must know what they are doing. Of course, you should never go back there. It is too dangerous. You do need to see a REAL dentist.
A lot of con men are "very nice". That is why they are so successful. The "wolves in sheep's clothing" play their roles well. It is important to know who is putting their fingers in your mouth!

Comment 4
Well, if you are thinking of going back to that dentist, check out the really horrible complaints against Western Dental, all over California. In the computer search spot, type: "Complaints against Western Dental" or go to
One person had good teeth until Western Dental worked on nine of them. Then they had nine bad teeth.
They try to treat as many people as they can and do as many procedures as they can--even if the procedures are not needed, so they can bill for them.
In addition, the FBI is investigating them for insurance fraud.
One complaint was from Modesto. Even though the dentist never had time to see her (after a long wait in extreme pain), Western Dental sent her a bill. When she didn't pay it, they kept adding late fees. They have a long history of complaints about fraudulent billing.
A dental chain like Western Dental in Florida was even kidnapping low-income children from their yards to pull their teeth.

more can be seen here....

1 Must Read Comments:

Anonymous said...

Western dental had me sign a contract, so my dentures were only $800.00. After recieving retro medical from being disabled they raised the price of my dentures to $1,829.00. I had them only 6 months & they cracked from wear. They want $165.00 to fi9x them. I live about 1 1/2 hrs from the ofiice in hemet. My dentures never fit. I went back twice, finally went to another dentist. By getting medical my contract is void. But they use it to there advantage. They raised the price, but say I have to make the contract payments. I don't! All the payments I send, they keep for late fees. After paying them $1,300.00 I have decided to stop paying them anything. Plus medical payed them money also. They call me about twice a week or more, to harrasse me about my payments. Now I just hang up on them. They are very rude, & there stuff has no clue what they are doing.