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Early recognition and easy resolution

15 July 2014
In the absence of a written treatment plan, you can easily come unstuck and find yourself in trouble, but taking early and respectful action can make all the difference...

A dentist provided a patient with large composite restorations in LR6 and LL6, replacing failing amalgams. After a very short period of time, the direct composite restorations failed and the patient complained that he had not been given the options of alternative treatments, i.e. inlays or crowns.

The patient had no intention of continuing treatment with the dentist and demanded a refund. It was quite clear from the pre-operative radiographs and intra-oral photographs that direct composite restorations were inappropriate due to the earlier severe loss of coronal tissue.

Grounds for a claim

The dentist could have been the subject of a negligence claim since an appropriate treatment plan had not been provided, but on this occasion the dentist sent a suitably worded form of agreement/release for signature by the patient, reading as follows:

I [name of patient] agree to accept the sum of [the fees paid] as a refund of fees paid by me to [name of dentist] for dental treatment provided.

I understand that this sum is paid and accepted in full and final settlement of any claim that I might have against [name of dentist] is made as a gesture of goodwill and without any admission of liability on his behalf.

Signed [name of patient]

Dated [today’s date]

Learning point:
Early recognition of a problem can sometimes result in a resolution with a minimum of disturbance and associated stress. A form of release is not always essential or desirable and every situation should be assessed on its merits.
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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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