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Failing to anticipate an adverse outcome

11 July 2014
As this case illustrates, clear communication between dentist and patient at all stages helps to minimise the chances of any problems during treatment...

A patient attended his dentist for the provision of four crowns. He could only attend on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings once a month because he was working abroad.

The dentist undertaking the treatment failed to take into account his inability to return ‘instantly’ and fitted temporary crowns, which unfortunately seemed to come off every few days. The patient did his best to seek treatment locally, but it was clear that the frequent loss of the temporary crowns affected the occlusion and the vitality of the teeth.

When the patient did finally manage to attend for a fitting, two teeth had lost their vitality and none of the crowns fitted. The entire treatment needed to be re-done, including root canal therapy on two teeth.

Learning point:
A failure to anticipate an adverse outcome can occur both during the planning and provision of treatment. If either the patient or dentist has a concern about the possible consequences of a particular treatment plan, it is important that an appropriate discussion takes place with the patient before treatment commences.
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