What can be done about harassing behavior at a dentist’s office?

My girlfriend has medical insurance through her workplace, however it does not cover any dental procedures. She had a wisdom tooth removed about a week ago. During her consultation, the office was informed that she did not have insurance and that she would be paying out of pocket. The consultation cost $250 which was paid up front during her visit. During the consultation, she was told that because the tooth was above the gum line, she would not need anesthesia. She would be numbed and the total cost would come to $240. The appointment was set for 2 weeks after the consultation. The appointment came and the dentist had found a cyst behind her wisdom tooth. She proceeded to take the cyst out without getting consent or even notifying my girlfriend that there was even a cyst there until the procedure was over. Afterwards, the dentist proceeded to tell her that there was a cyst and they were going to send it to the lab to make sure it wasn’t cancerous. My girlfriend walked up to the counter to pay. There, the receptionist told her the cost was $800 because of the cyst. My girlfriend said in her consultation that she was told to bring $240 and there was no talk of a cyst. The receptionist started yelling and screaming making a big scene in the office making smart remarks such as,

Asked on September 28, 2017 under Business Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There is no legal protection against being yelled out, insulted, etc. by another adult--certainly, behavior that includes actual threats of violence, or repeated harassment (e.g. "stalking") may be criminal, but a single incident of being yelled out, even completely unfairly or inappropriately, is not illegal: it is not a crime, and you cannot sue over it. The only thing your girlfriend can do is file a complaint about the behavior with the state medical/dental licensing board, which *may* take some minor action about this.

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