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Dental Protection survey reveals 9 in 10 dentists fear being sued by patients

Post date: 17/10/2018 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 14/11/2018

A Dental Protection survey of over 1,100 dentist members reveals that nine out of ten (89%) are increasingly fearful of being sued by patients.  Of those, three quarters (74%) feel that the fear of being sued impacts on the way they practise.

This fear is not without foundation as 43% of the public believe there are now more marketing campaigns by ‘No Win No fee’ firms compared to five years ago, according to a YouGov survey of 2,000 people. Claimant solicitors are using television, radio adverts and media coverage aimed at increasing the number of claims.  

The survey by Dental Protection found that three quarters (74%) of dentists feel that the fear of being sued is affecting the services they believe they are able to offer, while 64% of respondents feel that the fear of being sued has resulted in them making more referrals.

Nearly all respondents (98%) believe that we live in an increasingly litigious society and 79% of them are concerned about the impact this is having on their welfare and the way they practise, with 77% of respondents admitting that the fear of being sued has caused them stress or anxiety.

Key areas where Dental Protection is seeing claims include the diagnosis of caries, periodontal disease and the outcome of endodontic treatment. Issues around consent also often feature in clinical negligence claims.

Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection said:

“Dentists work in an increasingly challenging environment. It is worrying that three out of four full time general dental practitioners fear being sued by patients and understandably this will undoubtedly impact on the way they practise and add to already high stress levels”.

“Without proper consent and comprehensive, well organised records, a dentist will be severely disadvantaged in defending any allegations that may surface at a later date. Inadequate clinical records will make the case less defensible and often compromise the final outcome.  Dental Protection can provide members with further advice and guidance.”

“We always encourage dentists to explain the costs, risks and benefits of all the treatment options and ensure that the patient has a clear understanding of the planned procedure so that patient expectations can be met. Where a patient expresses dissatisfaction about any aspect of their care, dentists should take this as an opportunity to resolve the issue promptly to the patient’s satisfaction.”

“At Dental Protection we continue to support our members by offering advice and guidance on how to manage the complaint and importantly how to contain the risk of escalation. We also work with our members to try and avoid a complaint in the first place which could lead to litigation and provide a range of educational programmes to support them.”




Notes to editor:

The Dental Protection survey ran from 8 March 2018 to 25 March 2018 and received 1129 responses from UK dentists.

For further information contact [email protected] (+44) 207 640 5183.

About Dental Protection

Dental Protection is a registered trademark and a trading name of The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”). MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support together with the right to request indemnity for complaints or claims arising from professional practice.   

Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.

Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.

MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

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