According to Dental Protection, 89% of its dentist members in the United Kingdom are increasingly fearful of getting sued by their patients. And of them, 74% feel that this fear is impacting the way they practice, with 64% saying this fear has resulted in them making more referrals.
Dental Protection notes that this fear isn’t without foundation, as 43% of the public believes there are now more marketing campaigns by “no win no fee” law firms compared to five years ago to increase the number of claims.
Furthermore, 98% of Dental Protection’s members believe we live in an increasingly litigious society, and 79% are concerned about its impact on their welfare and the way they practice. Also, 77% say the fear of being sued has caused them stress or anxiety.
Dental Protection reports that it is seeing claims in the diagnosis of caries, periodontal disease, and the outcome of endodontic treatment. Issues around consent also often feature in clinical negligence claims, the company reports.
“Dentists work in an increasingly challenging environment. It is worrying that three out of four full-time general dental practitioners fear being sued by patients, and understandably this will undoubtedly impact on the way they practice and add to already high stress levels,” said Raj Rattan, dental director at Dental Protection.
“Without proper consent and comprehensive, well organized records, a dentist will be severely disadvantaged in defending any allegations that may surface at a later date. Inadequate clinical records will make the case less defensible and often compromise the final outcome,” Rattan said.
“We always encourage dentists to explain the costs, risks, and benefits of all the treatment options and ensure that the patient has a clear understanding of the planned procedure so that patient expectations can be met. Where a patient expresses dissatisfaction about any aspect of their care, dentists should take this as an opportunity to resolve the issue promptly to the patient’s satisfaction,” said Rattan.