12 May 2015
The importance of good communication with members of the public who attend your open day cannot be overestimated. They should be made fully aware of the nature and limitations of the examination which is to take place both verbally and perhaps more usefully in written form.
Since there are a number of techniques which serve as an adjunct to visual examination, and which may show up an early abnormality, patients should be advised of the scope and limitations of your examination depending on the technique you are proposing to adopt.
Members of the public who agree to an examination of their mouth should be taken through the consent process before they are examined. They should be reminded of the scope and nature of your examination and whether you will be carrying out a full examination of their teeth and the gingival tissues.
They should also be made aware at the outset that they may have to provide a medical history as well as a social history which may provide markers for an increased incidence in oral cancer. All this information should be documented in a clinical record for each person you examine. The record should also include personal details such as their name, address, date of birth, etc, together with the results of your examination. The records should be retained in the usual way.
If your examination extends beyond the oral cavity and includes the face and neck, you should note both positive and negative findings.
Your duty of care to each person you examine extends to whatever was agreed to be the nature of your examination – hence the importance of defining any limitations at the outset. It would also be desirable to advise patients of the importance of seeing a dentist on a regular basis especially if they fall into a high risk category.
In the event of you discovering a suspicious lesion, you will need to discuss with the patient how this should be followed up. You should not follow this up with their dentist or doctor without the express consent of the patient, as you will still be bound by a duty of patient confidentiality. However, you should stress the importance of referral to a specialist and the need to involve their doctor and also their current dentist (if they have one).
Dental members can save 20% on the two-hour interactive programme on oral cancer that has been produced by Smile-on