Patient Management Issues | Dental Professional Liability Insurance | Professional Protector Plan for Dentists

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Protective Stabilization for Pediatric Dental Patients

Every picture tells a story — but understanding the story requires a careful inquiry. Recently, the use of passive protective stabilization devices in dentistry has been the subject of unfavorable media coverage. Images of crying children, trapped in restraint systems while being “subjected” to apparently painful dental procedures, have suggested that practitioners may value efficiency and profit over compassion and good patient care.

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An Informed Consent Primer

During our dental risk management seminars, we often see exasperated looks on dentists’ faces when the topic turns to informed consent. Their faces seem to ask why they should bother to use valuable chair time to talk about the proposed treatment or ask for an acknowledging signature. After all, they’ve practiced their entire careers without incident, without ever formalizing the informed consent process or using a written consent document.
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Anyone Can Learn to Communicate Better

Communication is a vital element in every successful dental practice, fostering the relationships that tie patients and dental practices together. Dental communication issues pervade risk management and include contact between dentist and patient, dentist and staff, staff and patient, and between dentists. By properly managing these issues, you can improve patient care and increase patient satisfaction levels – and also help reduce the risk of a malpractice claim arising from a communication breakdown.
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Can I Be Held Responsible For a Negligent Referral?

Yes, you can! Although referrals generally improve the quality of care patients receive, it sometimes happens that a patient claims injury while under the care of the referral dentist. The claimant may cast a wide net in such an instance, alleging not only that the treating dentist committed malpractice but that you, the referring dentist, made a negligent referral that put the patient in harm’s way. 
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Decision Making and the Patient of Questionable Mental Capacity

Dentists confront many dental, medical, ethical and legal questions when dealing with mentally incapacitated patients and those with questionable mental capacity. Health care decisions are valid only when patients have the capacity to comprehend and consent to treatment – and patient capacity can be difficult to assess. As the number of older Americans continues to grow, this issue will affect greater numbers of dentists and patients. 
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Effective Physician Consultations

Consultations with physicians and other health care professionals are an important part of treating and protecting the health of patients with special medical conditions. Dentists have both an ethical and legal duty to be knowledgeable about the non-dental consequences of the treatment they perform as well as the medications they prescribe, as ignorance is not a valid defense to a malpractice action. Effective management of these cases depends on gathering the necessary information prior to treatment.
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How Patients Perceive Your Practice

A patient’s perception of your practice is based on much more than the dental care you provide. It includes many seemingly minor details, from the tone of the receptionist’s voice to the currency of reception area magazines. A positive perception increases patient loyalty and encourages patients to recommend your practice to their acquaintances, while a negative perception can be a major detriment to your practice and could potentially increase the risk of patient dissatisfaction and malpractice claims. 
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Informed Consent and the Minor Patient

Most dentists are aware that, as a general rule, an unemancipated minor’s consent to treatment is not valid, and that the consent of a parent or legal guardian must be obtained before treatment is rendered. Yet dentists frequently provide “routine” dental treatment to their minor patients withoutsuch consent.
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Looking at Your Practice From the Patient’s Point of View

Experience teaches us that the success of a practice does not depend entirely on the clinical skill of the dentist. Most patients lack the training and experience to objectively evaluate a dentist’s clinical skills. Instead, they gather information and form impressions based on their own subjective criteria, which may be very different from the standards dentists apply to themselves. To make your practice more successful, first determine how it and you are perceived by patients. 
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