Warning: How Negative Dental Marketing Works

How Negative Dental Marketing WorksTalk about the wrong kind of dental marketing!

Imagine coming into your dental practice one morning to discover that a Hepititius warning about your office had been distributed to your dental patients by your local health services office?

This is exactly what happened to dentist Derek Nordstrom of Edmonton Canada, who knew nothing of the Hepititius complaint.

Apparently, a recorded voice message from Alberta Health Services was calling Dr. Norstrom’s patients to advise them that one of his staff members had hepatitis C, and recommended the patients be tested.

Upon being notified by one of his patients, Dr. Nordstrom cancelled all of his dental appointments and spent the day making phone calls to the Alberta Dental Association and various other health agencies in an attempt to get to the bottom of the complaint.

The only problem was that none of Dr. Norstrom’s staff were sick.

Okay, maybe that wasn’t the only problem…

As if the health complaint wasn’t enough, Nordstrom’s receptionist then discovered websites attacking the dentist and his brother Patrick — also a dentist. According to The Edmonton Journal, one site — nordstromdentist.com — included photos of Dr. Nordstrom alongside anonymous claims of negligent procedures, false billing and even dead ants on his dental chair. The site also included a comment about an Alberta Health Services call about hepatitis C at Nordstrom’s clinic.

Talk about a dental marketing nightmare!

Nordstrom’s lawyer sent notice to the domain registry of the websites attacking the doctor and the sites were immediately suspended.

The bigger question looms as to how someone hacked the 4,000 active patient phone records of Dr. Nordstrom to relay the Hepatitis warning and who is out to get this doctor … and why.

An investigation into the phone messages and malicious websites is moving forward.

Nordstrom told the Edinton Journal that he isn’t sure who’s behind the calls, but finds it troubling someone would raise the question of serious illness to try to discredit him.

“It’s just a sick joke,” Nordstrom said of the hoax. “They’re just trying to hurt me.”

So far Dr. Nordstrom seems to be handling the situation well. I would strongly recommend a very aggressive PR campaign rebutting each accusation separately. While over the years I’ve seen everything from ex-spouse’s fire booming offices to disgruntled employee’s falsely reporting sexual harassment, this particular attack has all the earmarks of an inside job with the help of a professional and enraged computer hacker.

Read more: Hepatitis Claim Against Wainwright Dentist a Hoax, RCMP Say

Dentists: Here’s the Secret to Stayin’ Alive (video)

Dentistis: Here's the Secret to Stayin' Alive (video)Dentists, is there an easy way to teach your dental patients how to perform CPR?

The British Heart Foundation thinks so.

This week’s Friday random viral video features former Welch footballer and UK actor Vinnie Jones promoting how to apply chest compressions to the rhythm of the Bee Gees song, ‘Staying Alive’ to prove that CPR is easy for anyone to learn.

The British Heart Foundation TV advertisement demonstrates the hard and fast Hands-only CPR method with the hope that more people will feel comfortable in assisting with CPR in a medical emergency.

Click Play to watch how to use ‘Staying Alive’ to save a life —

I’m curious if your dental office staff can perform CPR?

Any Publicity Is Good Publicity

Scandals, Name Recognition Can Be Good for Business

The publicist’s time honored adage is that “no publicity is bad publicity.” And it turns out that this can be just as true for dentists as it is for rock stars and celebutantes.

It goes without saying that there are some scandals no one can successfully weather. The dentist involved in a scheme to plunder body parts for cash (including the remains of Masterpiece Theater’s Alistair Cooke) didn’t do himself any favors. There’s no bouncing back from certain crimes like murder or sexual abuse. (Genocide and human trafficking are also no-nos!)

As long as you don’t violate any cultural taboos, however, getting your name in the news can be good for your bottom line. I am not recommending you create a scandal for publicity’s sake. But if you do find yourself in the middle of a media maelstrom, just remember the silver lining: name recognition.

Let me illustrate my point with an example.

Dr. Charity, as I’ll call him, was a generous dentist who volunteered some of his time to performing dental work on low-income patients. One of his patients was an indigent woman I’ll call Ms. Patient.

During treatment, Dr. Charity gave Ms. Patient a routine injection of dental anesthetic. This led to an uncommon side effect that’s impossible to predict: the patient’s lingual nerve was hit, leaving her with a numb tongue.dental anesthesia

Non-dentists need to understand that no matter how well-trained a dentist may be, it’s impossible to predict the precise location of nerves. In a small fraction of cases, even the most experienced practitioner will inadvertently damage or deaden the tongue nerve. When this happens, the patient’s tongue becomes numb. This usually resolves itself within a matter of hours or days, but some patients suffer long-term or permanent nerve damage. There is no treatment except to wait out the body’s natural healing process.

That is precisely what happened to Ms. Patient. Not surprisingly, she did not enjoy the sensation of a numb tongue. What was more surprising was her reaction: she sued the doctor.

Dr. Charity’s insurance company wouldn’t settle. Ms. Patient’s complication was both minor and routine, certainly no fault of the doctor’s. They believed it was a frivolous claim, and they didn’t want to open the door to further lawsuits.

So the case went court. At trial, the jury sympathized with the poor woman over the rich doctor. Ms. Patient won her case against Dr. Charity. It was plastered all over the local papers.

Dr. Charity called me for advice. “Jim, what do I do?” he asked frantically.

“This is great!” I told him. “Let’s saturate the market. We’ll do a series of patient mail-outs.”

“But what do I do when patients ask me about the case?”

We rehearsed what Dr. Charity would say. “It happens to all dentists about 1 in 1,000 times,” went the spiel. “My insurance company stood behind me. But you never know what will happen in a jury trial.”

In the end, only two patients ever asked. However, Dr. Charity ended up with a lot of name recognition.

“Hey doc, I saw you in the paper!” said one of his many new patients. “You sure got ripped off by that woman.”

So, while Ms. Patient may have won the court case, I’d venture to say that Dr. Charity may have won something even more valuable!


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