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Dealing with a daughter’s distress

15 July 2014
Being aware of the feelings and reactions of everyone in the surgery helps to minimise the chances of future complaints, as this case shows...

A nervous mother attended the dentist for a filling. She had her four-year-old daughter with her. The child was left to play on the surgery floor. While the local anaesthetic was administered, the patient became quite tense and shook uncontrollably, anticipating pain. Her tight grip on the arms of the dental chair demonstrated her distress. The practitioner was aware of this and did his best to calm the patient. The remainder of the appointment was uneventful.

The caring dentist was quite surprised therefore to receive a letter of complaint from the mother. The letter detailed her discomfort and went on to claim that her daughter had been traumatised by the event and now refused ever to go to a dental surgery again. Unbeknown to the dentist and his nurse, the daughter had watched everything and was very upset to see her mother’s discomfort.

Had the dentist or the nurse noticed the daughter’s distress, she could have been distracted during the procedure or asked to wait in the reception area.

Learning point:
Non-verbal communications can impact on anyone present in the surgery.
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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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