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Dentolegal advice 01280 8668

Why choose Dental Protection?

We have more than 64,000 dental members in Ireland and internationally
98% of our attendees would strongly recommend our interactive workshops
98%

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Benefits of membership

Dental Protection can provide a wide range of benefits throughout your career.
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Events

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Our publications

Did you receive your copy of Riskwise Ireland?
  • Riskwise Ireland - January 2016

    Our risk management publication for members in Ireland.

    You can see what Dr Jane Renehan has to say about the Dental Advisory Panel and hear how Dr Ryan Hennessey introduced a hygienist to his team. There are further thought provoking articles including Dr Raj Rattan on planning a developing career, Professor John Gibson on drug therapies that we all need to have a handle on, and the minefield of implant dentistry.

    Members can read the current edition and browse through a library of our publications on Prism, our E-learning platform, or download a copy below.

Common queries

  • Q
    What should I do if a patient asks to record their consultation with me?
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    03 February 2016

    It is becoming common for patients to ask to record discussions about their dental treatment using a mobile phone. Dental Protection is also aware of cases where the patient has made a covert recording without telling the dentist. In a recent case in the USA, a clinician was sued after a patient’s mobile phone recorded him making unprofessional comments about the patient whilst he was under anaesthesia.

    It is common courtesy that somebody wishing to make a recording should ask permission. If you feel uncomfortable at the prospect then you should express that discomfort and tell the patient that you would prefer your conversation not to be recorded.

    If you would prefer not to be recorded, but the patient is insistent, it would be inadvisable for you to refuse to proceed with a consultation simply because the patient wishes to record it. A patient may have their own reasons for wishing to record a consultation and it would be worth exploring this further with them. Reasons could relate to the complexity of the consultation, the significance of the diagnosis, the patient’s memory, or the patient’s potential dissatisfaction. A little careful questioning could be helpful in discovering the patient’s thought process. Often patients simply wish to record consultations to ensure that they do not forget important information and/or because they want to share it with a friend or relative. There may be other ways of communicating this information (for example, by writing down the relevant information, or recording a summary of the relevant points at the end).

    If your consultation is recorded, it would be sensible to ask for a copy so that it can be placed in the patient’s notes to form a permanent record. Medical records already incorporate a variety of formats, including text messages and emails to and from patients, and recordings could become part of this mix.

    Secret recordings

    Technology makes it increasingly easy for patients to secretly record conversations. Most mobile phones and smartphones have record functions which can easily be activated without the dentist or dental nurse realising. Even hand-held games consoles can record conversations.

    A patient does not require your permission to record a consultation. The content of the recording is confidential to the patient, not the dentist so the patient can do what they wish with it. This could include disclosing it to third parties, or even posting the recording on the internet. So what does this mean for dentists?

    The content of the recording is confidential to the patient, not the dentist so the patient can do what they wish with it.

    Protection

    Smartphone use in the dental surgery should not affect the way you deliver treatment. Dentists and hygienists should always behave in a responsible and professional manner when working with a patient and consequently, any recording will provide concrete evidence of that. Such a record would inevitably be more complete than a traditional note and Dental Protection’s experience is that detailed record keeping is an invaluable tool in protecting the dental team against unsubstantiated complaints or legal action.

    A recording would potentially provide even more detail to demonstrate the professional management of your patients. There should be no reason therefore why you should have anything to fear from such a recording.

    Whilst you may understandably feel that being recorded may impair the professional relationship, this may well simply be a matter of adapting to current cultural and societal norms where it is becoming commonplace for the public to record and publish on the internet all sorts of pictures, recordings, etc, relating to their private lives.

    The future?

    Technological advances will undoubtedly bring further changes and it may well be that in 20 years’ time, recording of consultations, with copies being held by both doctor and patient, will be commonplace.

  • Q
    How should I respond to a negative comment about me that has appeared on a review website?
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    16 October 2015

    An adverse comment placed on a website, be it WhatClinic.com (or similar) or the practice’s own website, can be upsetting, especially as it sits in the public domain for anyone to see.

    With regard to an adverse post left on a review website, most such websites have the advantage of allowing the practice to post a response. Whilst there is no requirement to respond to website posts, indeed it would be inappropriate to respond to a complaint in this way, and it is advisable that a practice responds to such posts with a simple acknowledgement of the comments made and an invitation to the patient to make contact with a named person to discuss their concerns ​directly. This reassures both the patient who made the post and any other patients, potential patients and any others reading it that the practice takes patient feedback seriously and is keen to learn from patient experiences and to improve the service they offer. A suggested response is:

    Dear [name],
    I am sorry to read your comments posted on the website on [date] and to learn that you are unhappy with the service you received from the practice.

    We value patient feedback and welcome the opportunity to investigate and respond to any concerns. I would invite you to contact [named person] so we can fully investigate your concerns.

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Yours sincerely

    Many practices have protocols for routinely reviewing website posts and see them as an opportunity to improve services. Some practitioners also wish to thank those who have left positive feedback.

    A similar approach could be taken to comments placed on practice owned websites which have facilities for this, and sites such as Facebook. Practitioners could also consider inviting satisfied patients to leave positive reviews. These may be helpful in themselves and can also have the effect of balancing out and indeed outweighing any negative comments.

  • Q
    I find the advice that you offer over the phone useful and it supports my professional practice. However, I have heard that you may increase my subscription as a result of my calling for advice as you will perceive me as 'high risk'. Is this true?
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    07 August 2015

    If you have concerns about, or need help dealing with a complaint, please contact us for advice to provide peace of mind and to help prevent a concern or problem escalating. MPS does not, and never has, used the number of telephone calls from members seeking advice as part of its risk assessment of a member. The number of advice calls does not have any impact on the subscription rate that you are asked to pay.

    Our approach to risk carefully balances the needs of individual members with those of the whole membership. Our aim is to identify risk early and to alert members when their risk profile differs from that of their peers. This ensures that we can provide the right support as early as possible to reduce their future risk profile. We are well aware of the potential impact on our member’s career if they are deemed a significant risk. Whilst we indicate the nature of our concerns to individual members and try and work with them to reduce their risk, this may not always be possible.

    Our focus is on protecting and supporting the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. We believe that the interests of the majority of members should not be compromised by a very small minority. Those who have received a comparatively high volume of claims or other matters by comparison to their peers can adversely affect the mutual fund.