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Through the “Breaking the burnout cycle: keeping dentists and patients safe” campaign Dental Protection is making a range of policy recommendations that, if taken seriously, would help to improve the mental health and wellbeing of dentists and mitigate the risks of burnout in the profession.

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Failure to obtain consent is a top dentolegal risk, Dental Protection informs young dentists

19 February 2015

Failing to obtain patient consent before commencing treatment is one of the top risks for young dentists that can lead to patient litigation, Dr Raj Rattan, senior dentolegal consultant at Dental Protection, told delegates at the Young Dentist Conference this week.

Dr Rattan addressed over 200 delegates at the Conference, hosted by Dental Protection, in conjunction with the British Dental Association and the British Dental Journal.

The other top risks that can cause legal problems for young dentists are:

  • A failure to take into account what is and what is not available on the NHS
  • Working beyond competence

Speaking to young dentists about the legal risks, Dr Rattan said:

“The prospect of a patient taking legal action can be daunting for the most experienced dentists, let alone those who have relatively little experience in practice.

“It is vital that young dentists have an awareness of the factors that contribute to sub-optimal care. By controlling these factors, new clinicians can help to provide the best care to their patients and prevent potential complaints and claims.

“Consent is a two way communication process and it is important to engage patients in detailed conversation about risks and benefits and give them an opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification. Consent related paperwork should reflect such conversations; however, paperwork alone is not sufficient and may leave the dentist vulnerable. This risk can be managed by effective communication in the first instance.

“Adopting an ethics-led approach to care means young dentists can manage any risks that could be a potential legal pitfall.”

For further comment please contact Toni Edmonds, Dental Protection on [email protected] for more information.

Notes to Editors
  1. Dr Raj Rattan is a graduate of University College Hospital, London. He is a general dental practitioner and maintains his commitment to clinical dentistry at his practices, combining this with his role of Associate Dean in the London Deanery. He acts as a professional adviser to NHS and private sector organisations on a consultancy basis.

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