More dentists should consider putting themselves forward to provide expert opinion, according to Dental Protection.
The leading defence organisation says dental expert opinion is crucial in clinical negligence claims as well as investigations by the Dental Council as it determines the standard to which dentists are held to. But it said a step change is needed to encourage and empower more dentists to take on the role, as courts and regulators report difficulties in finding appropriately qualified and trained individuals.
Dental Protection will be liaising with stakeholders to consider how everyone involved in the training and instruction of experts can help to promote expert work and its benefits.
It said the development of a single register or list of experts that all parties can use, would also help to increase transparency and consistency.
Dental Protection is launching a series of webinars to raise awareness of the skills needed to become an expert and promote this work amongst members and the profession.
Dr Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection, said: “Dental expert opinion plays a critical role in civil and regulatory processes. Such opinion can dictate and determine the standards to which dentists are held, sway opinion and as a result have significant implications for a dentist’s career.
“Given the importance of expert work it is concerning that there are difficulties in finding appropriately qualified individuals to undertake it. The pool of dental experts is not as large as it could be, and there is no single centralised register of accredited experts. Instruction therefore often relies on word of mouth.
“Moreover, the barriers to undertaking expert work – including time constraints and unfamiliarity with legal processes – mean that expert work is often undertaken by dentists in the latter part of their careers when some may have retired from clinical practice and have more time to devote to it.
“Ongoing involvement in clinical work encourages dental experts to remain abreast of current clinical thinking, better understand the imperfections of the systems under which dental professionals work and the challenges these bring.
“We need to see a real step change in this area and dentists can play a key role. Dentists in active practice should feel encouraged and empowered to seek the training to become an expert witness and put themselves forward for what is important work for the profession, patients and wider society.”
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About Dental Protection
Dental Protection is a registered trademark and a trading name of The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”). MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support and can also provide, depending on the type of membership required, the right to request indemnity for any complaints or claims arising from professional practice.
Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.
Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.
MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.