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Family ties and the reasonable response

15 July 2014
When emotions are running high, keeping your cool is a much better option than reacting hot-headedly...

A patient suffered a cardiac arrest while receiving dental treatment. The practice emergency procedure was followed and the patient was monitored before being taken to hospital by ambulance. A staff member accompanied her to hospital. Subsequently, the practice made enquiries at the hospital to review the patient’s progress.

Some time later, the dentist received a letter of complaint from the patient’s relatives. It described an account of events that was factually incorrect. The allegation was made that the dentist had failed to provide an adequate level of care for the patient 

The dentist’s complaints officer looked into the incident and the dentist took advice from Dental Protection. Having obtained consent from the patient to disclose information to her relatives, a written response was made. This included a factual description of events and expressions of concern for the patient’s full return to health.

After the patient had recovered, she read the letter sent by the complaints officer and remembered exactly what had happened on the day she collapsed. She concurred with the practice’s account of the incident and wrote a letter of apology.

Learning point:
A balanced, caring and honest response to this complaint allowed reason to prevail. When emotions are running high, a measured response is invariably the best option.
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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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