11 April 2013
The Dental Council issued the Code of Practice on 11 April 2011 making it mandatory, from 1 June 2011, for dentists to display private fees in a place where patients can view them before consultation.
Code of Practice relating to the Display of Private Fees can be seen here
1) The Dental Council requires dentists in general practice to display the following fees. This is the minimum range of fees that must be displayed. Dentists may display a wider range of fees if they wish. The fees displayed must be accurate, transparent and inclusive of all costs.
Dentists must display a single fee only for the following treatments:
- Examination, diagnosis and treatment plan
- Hygiene treatment (hygienist) - per visit
- Hygiene treatment (dentist) - per visit
- X-rays - small
- X-rays - large (OPG)
Dentists must display fees for the following treatments and these may be displayed in the form of a range of fees. If displaying a range of fees both the minimum and maximum fee must be shown. It is not permitted to set a minimum price only for any treatment:
- Advanced gum treatment
- Restorations - white (composite resin)
- Restorations - silver (amalgam)
- Acrylic-based dentures
- Metal-based dentures
- Root Canal treatment
- Routine extraction
- Surgical extraction
- Core/post preparation
2) The fee notice must be at least A4 size (29.7 x 21cm or 11.7 x 8.3 in) and be legible, accurate and up-to-date. A sample notice is shown below and can be also accessed here
3) The fees must be prominently displayed in the practice and must be situated in a place where the patient could reasonably be expected to see the list before the consultation. It is recommended that the fee notice be displayed at any of the following locations:
- Entrance to the practice
- Reception area(s)
- Waiting room(s)
Dentists with websites must display fees in a format similar to that shown below.
4) For all other treatments dentists should provide an estimate of the cost of that treatment and obtain patient agreement and consent before treatment commences. If, in the course of treatment, the estimate has to be revised a full explanation should be given at the first opportunity. In the event of complex and/or costly procedures a written treatment plan and estimate of cost should be furnished to the patient.
5) Fee notices shall be displayed from 1 June 2011.
It is a requirement of the Professional Behaviour and Dental Ethics Guidelines to display prices. Failure to observe this Code of Practice may lead to Fitness to Practice proceedings being taken under the Dentists Act 1985.
Example fee notice:
Dental Protection’s advice
In order to demonstrate compliance with the Dental Council guidance members may wish to put themselves in the position to demonstrate that they have an appropriate and effective treatment planning procedure in place which takes into account the Dental Council guidance and that patients are advised of the nature of the contract, the details of the treatment advised and the associated costs, together with the details and costs of any alternative forms of treatment.
The Dental Council advises that a ‘written treatment plan and estimate of cost should be provided’ in the event of ‘ complex and/or costly procedures’. However there is no clear definition of complex or costly procedures. Members will be aware that patients can forget things and providing a patient two copies a written detailed costed treatment plan, one of which they sign and return to the practice can assist in demonstrating that the appropriate information on fees has been conveyed to the patient. It is not unusual in dentistry for a treatment plan to need to be modified and if this occurs a further discussion should take place with the patient and in these circumstances a new or amended detailed costed treatment plan may be provided to the patient.
Past experience has shown that a number of complaints are based on misunderstandings in relation to fees and transparency and ensuring that patients are advised of the details of their treatment and the associated costs will reduce the risk of such complaints arising.