IMy name is Abeygail and I have been diagnosed with Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD)--because of this, I have problems doing the simplest of thing that requires the lower facial muscles; this includes talking, eating and yawning.
Before I have been properly diagnosed with this, I had gone through four doctors (ENT Specialists) with my symptoms and all of them dismissed it as stress and made me rest for a week from work.
Last 2015, I had experienced non-stop pain in my head, jaw, neck and shoulder—in fear of making the pain worse, I was rushed to the hospital, but getting there, I was told that they couldn't help me with anything else but painkillers because they had no Orthodontist on call.
I went to an Orthodontist who had immediately confirmed that I had TMJD after a X-ray. In my dire wish to fix my jaw, I had agreed to go under therapy for 24 months on June 22 2015 that costs Php 168,728.00 in total; and that was the start of my predicament.
I have brought my dilemma to the hospital via email on 10 May 2017, giving the hospital a significance and a chance to give a solution to my dilemma and to discover if everything I went through was justifiable.
Please see below for the full back story:
To Whom It May Concern,
I'm severely disappointed that I have to write this letter in regards to how this Doctor treated me.
First of all, it has been stated in the contract that the payment of the treatment was via post-dated check (PDC) to which we immediately disagreed to because we didn't have any checking account to begin with.
The Doctor insisted that it was okay to pay with cash after every session in the duration of the treatment since we would be dealing with the mode of payment with her, and that I should just sign the contract.
I trusted her words and signed the contract, but after a few months, she started harassing me about opening a checking account because of some changes in the policy.
I felt as if she merely used the agreement to pay with cash as a bait for me to sign the contract.
Second, it was stated in the contract that my treatment would be on a MONTHLY basis, but for some reason she had forced me to visit TWICE in a month and pay for it-- her reason was that she would be traveling to another country.
It had never been in any discussion that I had to pay in advance should there be any case that the Doctor would need to travel abroad.
Third, attached to this letter is the doctor's ledger and the list of payments I had made that does not match.
The doctor had insisted that I had an outstanding balance of Php10,000. It got to the point that I had to bring my mother with me along with all the “vouchers” that was given to me as proof of payment (I know it was not an official receipt that was according to the BIR, but that was what she gave) and we started computing. It resulted to the correct amount of outstanding balance which was Php124.52. The doctor said that it was a good thing that I had kept all of our “receipts”.
She argued that it was her assistants' fault that made her think that we owe her Php10,000—but wasn't it also her obligation to be sure of all the payments going through her?
When I asked her assistants about it, and they claimed that the doctor told them of that amount and that it was in her ledger.
So which should tell the truth about the payments: the doctor's ledger, or the vouchers with signatures that I hold?
Fourth, I had been late for therapy twice because of the sudden change schedules that the doctor and I held on to. The assistant told me that there was a change in our time since the doctor then only takes ortho sessions every Thursday.
Nevertheless, I followed through with the doctor's unfair insistence and paid Php10,877.76 last December 2016 even though I only received one treatment.
Fifth, I had been honest with the doctor about being happy with my progress of improvement, but there were still some times that I felt a “clicking” sensation in my jaw.
I have been fitted for an 'impression' back in September 2016, but due to a rather confusing explanation, they said that the 'splint' doesn't fit me. It took 5 months (this includes my 2 late visits to therapy sessions) before I received it.
I don't believe that it should take more than 3 months, it felt as if they were just joking with me—and it was the assistant who processed the 'impression' even though it would have been more proper for the doctor to do it since she was the one with the license to administer the procedure.
Sixth, when I asked why I haven't gotten my splint yet and why it always seemed to have the wrong measurements, she told me that my teeth were small—that it fits the 'impression', but it might have also been because I wasn't following her instructions to wear the splint (now this is a joke, because I did tell her that I felt improvements in my jaw; that it didn't lock and 'click' as often as it did, though I still worry about the occasional 'clicking' that I encounter every now and again—and how on earth was I going to wear my splint if I hadn't gotten it yet?)
I didn't pay a serious amount of money just for her to blame my teeth for being small. I paid Php 168,728.00 for a proper and trust-worthy service. Even more, I would not waste money to delay a therapy session because I know that if I exceed my 24 months in the contract, I would have to pay an extra Php5,000 per visit.
The doctor also insisted that I was her only patient that went on for this long, that she had patients in America that only needed theraphy for a short time.
This was an insult to me, blaming me for my condition when not all patients have the same concern.
Seventh, the doctor told me to pay an extra Php20,000 for the 4th splint because she apparently didn't ask for any payment for the past 3 unfit splints.
I immediately refused it because the splint wasn't part of the contract, and I had not been given any statement that they previously made 3 neither had I signed any knowledge claim about it.
When I showed her the contract, she didn't read it. She merely told me that any doctor—or even, if I was the doctor, that I would have done the same thing and asked the patient to pay from Php20,000. Then, she told me to just return all the materials she used that amounted to Php5,000.
She insinuated that I was at fault not wearing the splint even if it was a perfect fit from the 'impression' –the thing is, I was measured for the splint on September 2016, but I only received the splint February 2017, how was I going to wear it?
Because of these specific events, I started having doubt about her. I started thinking that she might have been delaying my theraphy sessions in purpose so that I'd have no choice but to pay Php5,000 per session after the contract ends.
Eighth, I had an appointment last February 9, 2017 for the splint that I was expecting, but I wasn't able to attend because of the traffic. I went by the clinic the day after and they made me wait for 2 hours because I didn't have any appointment that day. When I got my turn to talk to the doctor, she was quite mad at her assistants and said that the splint wasn't ready.
I don't understand why the assistants were responsible for my splint. I believe that it's the doctor's obligation to know what's going on with her patients.
Ninth, the last splint was obviously just repaired. Attached to this letter is the picture of the old splint I got from her last 2015, she claimed that it was new.
The new splint was slathered with pink paste that molded against my jaw, measuring it according to my teeth. I asked her what the pink paste was for, but she didn't answer me directly.
Tenth, last February 2, 2017, I've gotten an SMS message from her assistants saying that the doctor instructed them to let me know that I was already over 24 months, and that I needed to pay Php5,000 per visit.
I showed the doctor the contract again, and she denied it and once again placed the blame on her assistants.
Every time I ask the assistants though, they insist that they were only instructed by the doctor and that I had to bring the concern to her.
I tried to get the truth out of them by getting the assistants and the doctor in one place, but the doctor always had a ready excuse like: she's in a hurry for errands, meetings and all the alibi's in the world, and like last February 16, she said that her nephew/niece was in an accident.
Eleventh, the doctor recommended that I have the molar at the edge along the right side be removed because it has no teeth to pair with at the bottom and that it won't be helping with the therapy. She asked for Php5,000 for the said surgery that wasn't a simple extraction of the molar.
I have been given braces but after a few months, the assistant called and said that they needed to take off another molar as the doctor told them. I told them in return that it wasn't included in the agreement that I made when I got the braces—then they told me, that another doctor was actually “looking for a patient”.
Did I really pay a specialist for me to recover, or was I made into a negotiable business between doctors?
Twelfth, last February 16, the doctor told me before leaving that I was already paid for but the last remaining treatment would be held on the 23rd month, and that on the 24th month I had to pay Php5,000 per session.
The way I see it, shouldn't I be paying on the 25th month since the contract was 24 months?
Thirteenth, since February 16, 2017 I haven't received any SMS messages about any schedule of appointment. I texted them on 14 March 2017 to inquire as to why that was and received a reply asking who I was.
When I told them who I was and asked why they don't remember, they said that they revamped the staffing. Is that any valid reason for a patient who's been attending their clinic for the past two years at least?
I even received a SMS on 30 March 2017 that my will be increased as I wasn't able to attend the appointment. I then replied that all my bills have been paid but they still insist that I still have a balance of Php5,000. When asked what was the Php 5,000.00 they said that I need to speak with the doctor as they were only being instructed to advise me. And they trying to imply that "maybe, you have a time for your dentist even once a month,because we are concern about your teeth". Stop playing words with me, as with other patients who feel the same way will totally lost faith as much as I did.
Attached to this e-mail are ALL the screenshots of the vouchers, ledger, contract and the SMS messages that withered my patience.
With everything that happened to me, can you really blame me for taking time to write you this long letter containing all my complaint, frustrations and disappointments?
I wasn't surprised when I discovered that some of her patients didn't finish their therapy sessions with her, too. They merely paid their balance and went off. Surely, they have their own experiences with the doctor that made it so.
Because of this, I would wish for a different doctor to remove my braces (because I know that I will not be treated the same after this complaint) without any amount of money as payment.
I also wouldn't be paying the Php5,000 balance that the doctor spoke of from the materials used in making a splint because it was not included in the contract and her reasons were unjustified for me.
Most of all, I would like the council to investigate my concerns with this doctor. It is preferable that there would be no bias on this, so that the truth would be clear.
What I am asking for is not a big thing compared to all the things I went through, all that trauma that will surely stay with me.
Because of this, I have lost trust in ALL doctors, and I will always doubt their vows to their profession.
I would really appreciate it if I would receive a reply from you as soon as possible and I would also like all of our exchange to be documented.
I am hopeful that you will be able to rectify this situation and wouldn't want this case to go anywhere else.
I'd appreciate your consideration on this concern and your swift reply.
They have acknowledged that they have received my complaint, and that they have forwarded my e-mail to who they referred to as the 'council' for investigation. It took nearly a month and I had not received any updates with regards to my situation, so I took it upon myself to ask what was going on.
I received a reply, stating that they had sent my complaint to another department which oversees their active physicians and dentists, and that they'll let me know after they've talked to the doctor who was in charge of my therapy then.
They also told me that the responsible Orthodontist had filed for leave due to “health issues” and would be back by 1st of June. They keep on evading my questions though, and the doctor's assistants had continuously contacted me even though I've told them that I need to get a proper response to my complaint first.
I cannot fathom why the concerned division cannot be sure of the actual situation when they should all be equipped as Specialists to justify my concerns as well as my records.
I cannot tell how utterly frustrating this is. There surely have to be better ways of actually knowing what is going on.
After a few weeks, I've received an e-mail with the doctor's response insisting that the main problem was financial while repeating the same alibis she had given me when she was treating me. They sent me no result of their “investigation”, just that letter of the doctor’s response.
It was clear that the hospital was biased with their doctor despite the long and VERY detailed e-mail I had sent them including a picture evidence, the contract, and the illegal issuing of vouchers instead of an official receipt every time I pay for therapy.
The rubber bands that go on the bracket ripped off since it hasn’t been replaced for months now. This causes my brackets to move as well as my teeth. I’m feeling a radiating pain again in the face, jaw and at the back of my neck.
This entire ordeal has caused a great deal of emotional stress that was token a toll on myself. I can no longer be assured that I am treating fairly.
I have still yet to get the justice that I need regarding my case, and I want to do this the right and legal way; I know that I can't do this on my own.
I am extremely blessed to have a friend that understand my bearings and recommended that I set up an account for everyone that wish to fund my cause and help in my situation.
Any amount of help from you guys is appreciated. From your donation, I'd be able to continue therapy with a different Orthodontist and hire a good lawyer that can help me with this case.
Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.