Communication Vital, But No Substitute for Dental Malpractice Insurance

The job of a dental professional is fraught with the possibility of errors resulting in sometimes excruciatingly painful outcomes to the services they perform. In order to avoid becoming the victim of a malpractice suit, dentists should follow certain steps and procedures and make sure that their staff adheres to all safety initiatives, as well as following all the necessary steps during the commission of their duties.

 

In addition, the dentist should always carry sufficient amounts of dental malpractice insurance, but the following tips may help to ensure that insurance isn’t always required if patients leave the office both satisfied and unharmed.

 

Communicate clearly with patients before treatment

 

Never start treating a patient until certain that they understand exactly what is going to take place and the possible risks involved. Don’t take for granted that a patient has some background knowledge of dental procedures, as most do not. Speak plainly and be sure to encourage them to ask questions. It doesn’t hurt to have the patient sign a consent form that states they understand the treatment and its risks.

 

Always follow up with missed or cancelled appointments

 

There should be a written protocol in place for following up with patients who miss or cancel an appointment, even if it’s just a six-month cleaning. A missed appointment could lead to a missed opportunity to diagnose a condition as soon as possible, which leaves a dentist vulnerable to claims of negligence.

 

Always keep accurate records for every patient

 

For example, unintentionally breaking the tip of a file in the canal of a patient’s mouth does not violate a standard of care, but it should be noted, both to the patient and in the patient’s file since, if there is a complication, or if the patient discovers it later, they may be angered, and more likely to file a claim against the practice.

 

Keep patient’s chart complete and unaltered

 

If a mistake is accidently recorded in a chart, cross it out and note that it is in error. This will avoid it looking suspicious if that patient later sues and his or her records are examined and it appears that someone purposely tried to cover up an error. In addition, never add information to a chart (even for purposes of clarification) once a patient has filed a claim.

 

Dental work comes with some severe risks and exposures that require all dental technicians to carry some form of dental malpractice insurance. Speak to an agent about any questions or concerns.

 

photo credit: North Carolina Digital Heritage Center cc
This post was written by , posted on October 23, 2014 Thursday at 3:15 pm

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