Every dental practice works hard to treat their patients properly, but every one of them also knows there malpractice complaints are always a possibility. That’s why it’s essential ensure the standard for care is always met or exceeded.
Some of the common situations that lead to dental malpractice claims include:
- Mistakes with treatment or misdiagnosis.
- Lack of communication.
- Improper technique.
- Giving questionable or wrong advice.
- Defective or faulty products.
- Accidental injury.
- Failing to provide a proper referral.
These are just a few of the reasons that a patient may choose to file a malpractice claim. To avoid these issues, make sure your practice has some rules in place to protect both the patient and the practice.
Make Sure to Communicate
It’s important that your patient understands what’s going on. Medical malpractice lawyers see a lot of claims that could’ve been avoided with better communication. Always confirm the treatments you plan to do with your patient at each visit. Do this even if you’ve discussed the plan in the past. Miscommunications happen, and it only takes a moment to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Communication is also important when things go wrong. Dentists are human, which means they sometimes make mistakes. Likewise, the equipment you’re working with is not infallible. If a mistake or equipment failure does occur, let the patient know and document everything on paper.
Don’t Be Afraid to Provide Referrals
When one of your patients needs work that’s outside of your area of expertise, it can sometimes be a tough pill to swallow. If your patient is in a situation that requires an endodontist, oral surgeon, or a periodontal specialist, it’s important to refer them to one. This is true even if you do have some training and experience in those areas. There are times in life when we should push beyond our comfort zones, but this isn’t one of them.
Create Treatment Plans Based on Need, Not Financial Limitations
Every dentist knows that properly treating patients who are either on a limited budget or working with an insurance plan that has limitations can be difficult. Many patients avoid seeing a dentist all together due to lack of funds, and those who do come in are sometimes nervous about how much things will cost. Insurance plans often only cover some of the needed treatments.
You can’t force your patient to do the treatments, but you do need to recommend and attempt to schedule them. Dentists have been sued because they attempted to help patients who were struggling financially by delaying needed treatments, which led serious problems for the patient later down the road. You can be understanding about a patient’s financial situation while still providing a realistic assessment of the consequences of delaying treatment.
By following these guidelines and continuing to work toward providing the highest standard of care, your practice can avoid dental malpractice claims.