28 July 2009
Q. I've received a letter from a solicitor proposing action against me; what should I do?
Statistically speaking most dentists will receive at least one such letter in their working life. This does not mean that standards in dentistry are falling! Rather it means that patients are becoming more litigious and it is realtively easy for a pateint to seek and obtain legal advice.
Dental Protection is aware that certain firms of solicitors have recently been approaching our members directly; even after having been advised that we are acting on behalf the dentist concerned, and demanding that the original clinical records should be supplied direct to the firm in question, often within a very short time scale.
Members should immediately contact Dental Protection for advice if this happens and we will take up the communication on your behalf with the solicitors concerned. You should resist the temptation to contact the patient or to provide the patient's solicitors with an explanation or the patient records. Instead you should send a short acknowledgement to the solicitors confirming that their correspondence has been passed on to Dental Protection.
When writing to Dental Protection, you are asked to provide the following details:
- Your full name, address, qualifications and current daytime and evening phone numbers. Include fax and email address if relevant, and indicate any preference you have regarding how, when and where we should communicate with you, bearing in mind any confidentiality considerations.
- Your MPS membership number (you will find this on your membership certificate).
- The name, age, gender and occupation (if known) of the patient.
- The full names of any other clinicians involved, so that they can be accurately
- The date(s) and details of your personal involvement in dealing with the patient -
symptoms, signs, investigations and treatments, as a plain factual narrative.
- The original records with the authors of entries identified. If the records supplied are not those which were made at the time in question, or if any entries have been added or amended more recently, it is important to make this clear to Dental Protection when you send them to us.
- It is often very helpful if an accurate transcript of the records is provided,
visit- by visit, to explain any entries on the record card which are unclear for any reason.
- Any radiographs, photographs, study models, or other parts of the overall
record which are relevant to the case.
- Due care should be taken to ensure the safe transit and security of these valuable
records, when sending them to Dental Protection. We will acknowledge safe receipt of such records.
- Please provide your written consent to the disclosure of copies of the records.
- The correspondence from the solicitors
In order to protect your position our legal team will conact the patient's solicitors confirming our interest on your behalf. From that point onwards the patient's solicitors should correspond directly with Dental Protection and you should receive nothing further directly from them. However, if you receive any further correspondence from them, do please let us know.
The patient's solicitors may take some time to investigate the claim. We will keep you updated as to any developments and you may also contact Dental Protection for an update when you wish.