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A patient complains and leaves the practice

20 July 2018
A patient made a complaint regarding aspects of the treatment they had received at a practice. The complaint was resolved; however the patient advised the practice they would not be returning for any further treatment.

Some weeks later, the daughter of this former patient attended an appointment, accompanied by the parent who had made the complaint. Upon arrival, they were informed that this appointment had been cancelled and the dentist would be unable to see the daughter. The practice had assumed the whole family would not be returning to the practice and the child was declined a further appointment.

Clearly the assumption made by the practice was incorrect and as a result of the cancelled appointment, the mother made a further complaint.

Learning points
  • It would be difficult from a contractual and ethical perspective to justify withdrawing treatment of a child because of a breakdown in the professional relationship with one of their parents. Whilst it could leave everyone feeling a little more uncomfortable, it is important other family members should not be disadvantaged in their choice of clinician.
  • In such circumstances, if there is any doubt as to whether the children will be returning to the practice, it seems reasonable to ask the parent if they would feel comfortable with their children attending for future appointments with the clinician who was the subject of the original complaint, and if not, it might be helpful to offer them the opportunity to see an alternative clinician.

    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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