Image of a dental team. Do you give written notices to your patients?

Dental Negligence – Are you covering your tracks?

Written notification of Periodontal Disease is essential for every Dental Hygiene Program. Make sure your entire team understands that informed refusal is just as important as informed consent. The main function of informed consent is to protect the patient’s right to self-determination of whether or not to accept the treatment proposed.

The dentist and hygienist are responsible for providing patients with several important factors to make sure that they are properly informed:

  • Explain the procedure using understandable terms and language
  • Explain clearly the reasons or diagnosis for the planned procedure
  • Explain the benefits, anticipated outcome, and prognosis of the procedure
  • Explain any risks attached to the procedure
  • Explain possible alternative treatments, including no treatment and the risks and benefits
  • Explain the costs of the planned procedure with alternative options

When a patient refuses treatment, it is highly advised to have the patient sign a written informed refusal, indicating the patient’s full understanding of the risks associated with their refusal of recommended treatment. This includes the refusal to seek specialty care when recommended. This prevents the patient from stating, in a future alleged malpractice lawsuit, that they were not informed of loss of teeth, or even death, due to their refusal to treat.

Many practices are not enforcing this standard of care .The State Board website reports more and more dental negligence cases being filed due to practices not having patients sign a refusal of treatment for periodontal disease.

Avoid getting caught in this situation. Our website provides a downloadable form that assists with the notification of existence, explanation, and stage of disease.

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– Donna Jackson
Coach, The Dental Business

About Donna Jackson

Hygiene Consultant for The Dental Business.