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The therapist and the sound-alike name

11 July 2014
Although the following case is unusual, it highlights the need to be sure the patient you’re treating matches the name on the record card...

A dental therapist was asked to see two children, Sahira and Sahir, for treatment. The dental nurse went into the waiting room and asked for Sahira to come in. The child happily came through the door and sat on the chair while the mother took the other child to the bathroom.

After consulting the notes, the therapist provided a small filling and some fissure sealants in accordance with the dentist’s prescription and the child was returned to the waiting room once treatment had been completed.

The mother was surprised and wondered why she had been asked originally to book another appointment for Sahira. It was only then that the therapist realised that although she had treated Sahira, she had worked from Sahir’s record card.

Annoyed

Naturally the mother was very annoyed that unnecessary treatment may have been provided. The therapist apologised for the genuine mistake on her part. The mother wrote a letter of complaint to the practice saying she had lost faith in the therapist.

Both the dentist and therapist sought guidance from Dental Protection. It was jointly agreed that the dentist should send a letter with an apology and a full explanation of the events together with an assurance that the dentist would provide all future treatment. The letter also assured Sahira’s mother that practice procedures would be modified to ensure that such a mistake could not happen again. Amazingly no further correspondence was received and the children continue to receive treatment at the practice.

Learning point:
Children on their own are likely to say ‘yes’ when they may mean ‘no’ and so an open question such as ‘what is your name?’ is a more reliable means of establishing identity than the closed question ‘is your name...?’
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These case studies are based on real events and provided here as guidance. They do not constitute legal advice but are published to help members better understand how they might deal with certain situations. This is just one of the many benefits dental members enjoy as part of their subscription. 
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