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Cover yourself with contemporaneous records

15 July 2014
When a patient makes a complaint, the one thing you’ll be able to rely on is your records. If they are not detailed enough, you could find yourself in real trouble.

A patient with an abscess rang her dentist’s mobile number as instructed in a message left on the practice answering machine. She was unable to contact the dentist and eventually went to another practice where she was treated privately at significant cost. She complained to her dentist later who checked his mobile phone and found that the battery had run down. The patient complained to the local health body and in turn they asked the practitioner why he had not made emergency arrangements for his patients.

With the help of Dental Protection, the dentist showed them his log of previous out-of-hours responses and he explained about the battery problem. He assured them that the phone would be checked in future and the patient was offered a goodwill refund of the private charges paid to the second dentist. The local health body subsequently accepted that the practitioner had made ‘reasonable’ arrangements for emergency cover, and no further action was taken.

Learning point:

A contemporaneous record of earlier events can save the day.

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. 
For more detailed advice on any issues, contact us