Dentures should only be provided by dentists or registered clinical dental technicians, and an incorrect referral can have serious consequences for a dentist.
Dr J called Dental Protection with a query about referring patients to a dental technician to have dentures made. The technician was not a registered clinical dental technician but Dr J was aware that he was happy to see denture patients. Dr J was seeking clarification on how the referral should be made or whether he could simply pass the technician’s contact details to the patient.
Dr J spoke to a dentolegal consultant at Dental Protection who gave the following advice:
Under the provisions of Section 51 of the Dentists Act 1985, the only people allowed to provide dentures directly to the public are dentists or registered clinical dental technicians. Unless the technician to whom the patient is referred to is qualified and registered to provide treatment directly to patients, then the dentist could potentially be party to an illegal act.
Any dentist who referred a patient to have treatment from an individual who was not registered appropriately, or who otherwise suggested this as a possibility, could find themselves in difficulties with the Dental Council for encouraging the illegal practice of dentistry.
Dental Protection also understands that, should the HSE uncover any information to indicate a dentist had made such a referral, that this would lead to the Dental Council being notified.
An allegation of this sort would obviously be taken very seriously, as there is an expectation that registrants will uphold the reputation of the profession. It is therefore important to ensure that you are entirely satisfied with the standards and training of anyone to whom you refer patients.