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Stick to the facts

11 July 2014
If a lawyer representing a patient asks you to write a report, truth and accuracy are essential to protect your integrity...
A dentist received correspondence from one of his patient’s lawyers asking for a report about treatment required by their client after biting into something hard in a sandwich purchased from a well-known fast food restaurant.

The dentist examined the patient’s records where he had made a note, some months previously, that the patient had attended complaining of a broken tooth following the history described by the lawyer.

The patient’s records and radiographs confirmed that the tooth in question had been heavily restored over the years and there was also a note in the records that the member had advised the patient to have it crowned prior to the incident, but the patient had declined the treatment due to cost.

Seeking reimbursement

It was quite clear from the patient’s conversation with the dentist that she expected the fast food restaurant to reimburse her for the cost of the crown and tried to persuade him to write a report to that effect.

The dentist contacted Dental Protection and was advised to provide a factual report based on the entries made in the dental records as well as his interpretation of the radiographs which would indicate that even if the patient had not bitten into something hard in that particular sandwich, the tooth already needed to be crowned.

The dentist wrote a report for the patient’s lawyers on that basis and the patient was unhappy about it, but the dentist did not allow the patient’s wishes to compromise his professional reputation and integrity. Rather than being pressured into making a statement which he knew to be untrue or misleading, he quite correctly stuck to an objective and factual report.

True and accurate

When the dentist received correspondence from the patient’s lawyers asking him to amend his report, he wrote back to inform them that his report was a true and accurate picture of the patient’s clinical condition prior to the accident and that it would be inappropriate to alter it in any way.

Learning point:
When supplying a report in a professional capacity, it is important to remember that it may become necessary to defend it in a court of law, and consequently it should only contain factual information that can be supported.
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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 Protection members enjoy as part of their subscription. 
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