Irked patient can complain to state agency
: If a patient is given a co-pay estimate (say $50) for dental work and after the work is completed, the dentist informs the patient that his secretary miscalculated the co-pay amount by $150, is there any recourse?
Answer: Call the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' Consumer Resource Center, 587-3222.
The Consumer Resource Center not only provides consumer-related information to callers, but it also will receive and process complaints for both the Regulated Industries Complaints Office and the Office of Consumer Protection, said Jo Ann Uchida, complaints and enforcement officer for RICO.
She explained that RICO investigates complaints involving possible professional licensing law violations, while the Office of Consumer Protection investigates complaints involving possible unfair or deceptive acts or practices.
Either office may review cases that involve allegations of misrepresentation, false promises, fraudulent representations, etc., or both agencies may do so, depending on the case.
In your case, "It is hard to say what kind of recourse the patient has without more information about the background circumstances that led to the billing error," Uchida said.
If you decide to file a complaint, you can get a form either by calling the Consumer Resource Center or downloading a copy at www.hawaii.gov/dcca/rico.
Meanwhile, if you have an issue dealing with "the quality of care and appropriateness of care ... related to dentistry," then you are advised to first call the Hawaii Dental Association.
The association doesn't get involved with billing or personality issues, but "for dentistry complaints, we prefer (patients) to call us to have us help them," a spokesman said.
The dental association has set up a nonbinding peer review program to help resolve issues. That means if the patient is not satisfied, he or she is free to take the complaint elsewhere.
Each county has its own Peer Review Program. On Oahu, it's known as the Honolulu County Dental Society Peer Review Program and is housed in the same offices as the HDA.
In the majority of cases, issues are worked out before it even gets to the peer review committee, the HDA spokesman said.
Q: I noticed that the speed bumps in the lower campus of the University of Hawaii-Manoa have all been removed. Why? This will only encourage speeding where there are lots of foot traffic and bicycles during the day.
A: They were removed as part of the deal Toyota Motor Sales has to rent athletic facilities for a dealers meeting, including a private Aerosmith concert, on Saturday.
UH spokesman Gregg Takayama said Toyota wanted the bumps removed to make it more comfortable for the more than 6,000 conventioneers being transported in more than 100 buses.
Toyota is required to reinstall the bumps before Tuesday.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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