Dental negligence is a rare occurrence, but when it does happen it can be serious. Preventing dental negligence from happening is something that practitioners and patients can play a part in, to ensure that everyone receives the best care possible with no issues or concerns.
If you have experienced dental negligence, or a patient has made a claim against you, there will be a structured complaints process that is followed.
Initially, patients should in most cases bring up the issue directly with their dentist. The dentist should respectfully listen to the patient’s complaint, and give an appropriate and calm response to the problem. The dental office should also display a complaints procedure or brochure so that the patient can proceed with their complaint easily.
After speaking to the dentist, the next port of call is to complain directly to NHS. The patient needs to provide their name and contact details, and describe the situation that led to their complaint. They may also provide relevant correspondence so that the NHS can see how the situation has already been dealt with to date.
Dentists must also abide by the standards of the General Dental Council (GDC). If the dental service was provided publicly, complaints can be made directly to the GCD, unless the patient wants compensation for harm that they may have suffered. In the situation that the patient is looking for compensation, they will need to file legal action against the dentist. Patients who have received care privately will also need to fila a lawsuit rather than complaining via the NHS and GDC.
Many common malpractice claims against dentists are for incorrect work, a missed diagnosis, infections being caused during a dental procedure (from unsterilized equipment), or failures to give accurate advice.
How Can Patients Reduce the Risk of Dental Negligence Occurring
Patients can play a role in ensuring that dental negligence never happens to them, by first doing online research before they choose a provider. The patient can ensure that they select a high-quality dental service, and research the procedure that they need done. If the patient knows what to expect, they will be more likely to realise if something has not been done correctly.
Another way that patients can ensure that they don’t suffer further injury after a dental procedure, is to maximize oral hygiene afterwards. While this isn’t preventing dental negligence per se, it ensures that any surgery or dental work heals correctly and cleanly.
If the patient is worried that something isn’t being done correctly, they should look for a second opinion. A medical negligence firm has revealed that 14% of negligence claims are made because a patient has been persuaded by another professional; without a second opinion, you may not even know that something has gone wrong.
How Can Dentists Reduce the Risk of Dental Negligence Claims
To stop medical negligence claims being filed against you or your dental practice, ensure that you always get consent from your patients before carrying out any dental work. Make sure that you fully inform your patient about what will be done, the risks involved, and any alternative treatments that may be available.
Dental negligence is something that can be prevented by proper practice from dentists taking care with their work, and patients being aware of what they should expect in a procedure.