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In pursuit of ethical dentistry

11 July 2014
While it can be all too easy to want to maximise profits, doing so can rub patients up the wrong way. Changing the way you practise can make a real, positive difference...

A general practitioner saw patients under a national capitation scheme but also offered alternative private treatments which were not available under that particular scheme. There was a substantial difference in costs between the scheme prices and his private treatment. For the private treatment he set his own costs with a much larger margin. It therefore benefited him if patients elected to have treatments through his private fee scale.

A series of complaints were made against him by patients who felt they were not being offered a proper choice within the scheme’s benefits and were being misled into accepting the much more expensive private treatment.

The practitioner was advised that his patients must be thoroughly informed about all the treatment options and, where possible, give their consent in writing if accepting the more expensive private treatment.

Complaints against the practitioner continued but he insisted that he had the paperwork associated with all the patients concerned, showing they had consented to the treatment. However, reports obtained from patients sometimes indicated that the alternative treatments were offered to them when treatment was well advanced and they were supine in the dental chair with a paper held above them for signature.

In an attempt to reduce the level of complaints, the dentist was counselled by a local colleague who introduced him to an ethical business management programme. The dentist changed his way of practising and no further complaints were received.

Learning Point:
Ethical practice is no barrier to making a profit.
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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 Protection members enjoy as part of their subscription. 
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