• Dissatisfied Patient? A Refractive Surgeon’s Advice


    “I’m convinced that the difference between a good and a great practice is how they deal with their unhappy patients,” said Vance Michael Thompson, MD. He offered the following tips during Refractive Surgery Subspecialty Day:

    • Be proactive. Prepare yourself and your team.
    • Empower your team. Listen to your staff, Dr. Thompson said. “They have a different perspective; they spend more time with the patient than you do.” He asks his staff members to let him know how they are treated by patients and to flag any potential problems.
    • Build connections. “If I don’t have a bond with the patient—if I don’t connect with them—I won’t do the surgery,” Dr. Thompson said. He also gives them his personal email address and phone number. Overall, he said, “Run toward the problem and show compassion.”
    • Be responsive. Make time to see unhappy patients. Moreover, get them in right away; don’t have them wait. In his office, he said, “Everyone knows that I need to be personally involved with unhappy patients. You can’t get out of my practice [if you’re] unhappy.”
    • Stay calm. The patient’s perception is the patient’s reality, Dr. Thompson pointed out. Given that, it’s important to stay calm. “The last thing they need is you reacting [angrily] because you think they should be okay.”
    • Consider the refund. Thompson has provided refunds on very rare occasions. “It is a delicate situation,” he acknowledged, and he pointed audience members toward the work of Alan E. Reider, JD, MPH, who has written on the topic. One of Mr. Reider’s recommendations is to have the patient sign a release before issuing the refund. The statement should be simple and straightforward, and it should release you of any other claims that the patient may otherwise have in connection with the surgery.

    Financial disclosures. Abbott: C,L; Acucela: C; AcuFocus: C,L,O; Alcon: C,L; Allergan: C; Alphaeon: C; Avedro: C; Avellino: C; Bausch + Lomb: C; Calhoun Vision: C; Carl Zeiss: C; Castle Care: C; Equinox: C,O: Euclid Systems: C; eyeBrain Medical: C,O; ForSight Labs: C; Imprimis: C; Mynosys: C,O; Myopia Control Centers: C; Oculeve: C; OcuSoft: C; Ophtec: C; Precision Lens: C; Strathspey Crown: C; Treehouse Health: C,O; Wavetec: C.

    Disclosure key. C = Consultant/Advisor; E = Employee; L = Speakers bureau; O = Equity owner; P = Patents/Royalty; S = Grant support.

    Next story from AAO 2018—Saturday’s and Sunday’s Honorary Lectures: In the words of this year’s presenters, here’s what you can learn during 8 of 2018’s named lectures.