31 March 2009
Q. If I refund the patient's fees, am I admitting liability and risking a future claim?
There is often a degree of hesitation before any dentist proposes this course of action. Admitting to yourself that a particular treatment didn't achieve exactly what was intended can take a moment to accept. However ther is a common misconception that giving a refund to a patient should be avoided because it implies there has been a problem. However in certain circumstances where the patient is disappointed with the look or the comfort of the final result (eg dentures that the patient cannot wear or the degree of whiteness achieved with bleaching) dentists can give the patient a refund. This can often resolve difficult situations and avoid further hassle. Provided the refund is given with a clear indication, preferably in writing, that it is ‘a gesture of goodwill with no admission of liability' it is unlikely to increase the risk of any further action and does not provide any additional grounds on which the patient might base a claim.
Members might like to explore this further by downloading the Risk Management Module 9 on complaint handling from the library here