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Communication is the key

15 July 2014
While clinical judgement rests in the dentist’s hands, not telling the patient what you’re doing or have done can bear consequences down the line...

A patient attended for extraction. The extraction proved difficult, the gingival tissues were lacerated and in addition a root fractured which required a surgical removal and the placement of sutures. Subsequently the patient attended hospital with pain and swelling and only then was advised that the socket had been sutured.

A claim was instituted and in the response to the patient’s solicitors, a full explanation of events and circumstances was given. The dentist reported that he had failed to explain to the patient the difficulties he had experienced during the extraction and that the socket required suturing. The patient accepted the explanation and an apology and the case was not pursued.

Learning point:

The dentist could have avoided the legal action taken by the patient if he had properly communicated with the patient at the appropriate time.

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