Pennsylvania Council of Mediators
Mediation: A Tool to Resolve Disputes Between Patients and Dentists
In the event that problems or misunderstandings arise between dentists and their patients regarding dental services, mediation is an effective tool to resolve the issues. The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA), in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Council of Mediators, has a program that links disputants with information that can help them decide if mediation is appropriate for a particular situation, as well as locate prospective mediators.
Mediation brings disputing parties together in a confidential setting to explore their understanding of the conflict and empowers them to decide on a resolution. Mediators believe the parties themselves are best able to define the issues and develop their own resolution.
The mediator is an impartial facilitator of the conversation, helping the parties listen and talk with each other, consider each other’s perspective and make voluntary, informed decisions. The mediator does not offer solutions.
Either one or both parties can request mediation. If one party contacts a mediator, the mediator will contact the other party, explain the mediation process and invite them to participate in mediation. Participation is voluntary. Both the patient and dentist must agree to participate. Anyone may withdraw at any point, if they feel continuing would not be useful. Should either party choose not to participate, the other party retains the right to pursue the complaint by other means.
Costs also vary, depending on the complexity of the case and the experience and training of the mediator. The parties may agree to share the mediator’s fee.
Mediators come from a variety of professions, such as law, social work, medicine, human resources, psychology, education, business and the ministry. Their hourly rates usually reflect their training and years of experience.
Mediation centers may request a small donation, use a sliding scale, or charge fees comparable to private mediators. Be sure to ask about the fee when you interview prospective mediators. Learn more about selecting a mediator.
Find a Mediator
The Pennsylvania Council of Mediator’s website offers a tool for searching for a mediator who handles disputes of this nature. You can search for a mediator who indicates he or she provides mediation for issues involving dental services. You can search statewide or narrow your search by county. The listing of mediators is offered as a service, but does not imply endorsement by the Pennsylvania Council of Mediators or PDA. Be sure to use the guides to mediation mentioned above to know what questions to ask to determine if a specific mediator is appropriate for your situation.
To learn more about mediation, review the Resolving Disputes Through Mediation document.
For general questions on mediation and the process of locating a mediator, call the Pennsylvania Council of Mediators’ representative at (610) 526-1802.