Avoid costly settlements in the future by keeping adequate records now...
An 11-year-old boy had been visiting a general practitioner regularly since the age of two. His parents were often abroad, and he was usually brought to the practice by his nanny and the chauffeur. The dentist suggested that an orthodontic review should be undertaken to determine the options for treating a missing lateral incisor and made a referral for an opinion.
The boy was at a boarding school noted for its sporting prowess and was not seen again by the dentist for two years. The patient had not attended the orthodontist and the nanny was asked to reinforce this fact to the parents. The next time the patient attended he was 15 and came alone. He said he did not mind his irregular teeth and did not want orthodontic treatment.
By the time he reached university, his ability at tennis started to attract media attention. He was now 19 and extremely conscious of his appearance and sought an opinion from an orthodontist recommended by his mother.
‘This should have been treated much earlier’ was the phrase quoted by the parents’ lawyers in a claim against the first practitioner for the cost of the treatment that was now proposed, along with a claim for lost earnings from an advertising contract the tennis star had been offered.
No record of the original referral had been made nor of the warning about the need for treatment given to the nanny. A discretionary settlement was made out-of-court.
This case highlights the need to make detailed contemporaneous records. It is important to keep a record of all conversations with patients or those in charge of them.
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