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“ Many dentists know from bitter experience that, once all copies of People’s Friend have been read twice, trouble usually follows”

all patients to be provided with a written treatment plan and cost estimate. Failure to properly inform patients at the consenting stage can lead to all sorts of problems, both in terms of patient complaints and compliance with regulatory requirements. In all likelihood, your new patient will need to

return for treatment. Here the process of risk management is resumed. The complaint-averse practitioner will confirm that the patient is still cognisant and content with the agreed treatment. The previous notes (which should have been carefully prepared at the previous visit) will be checked and bitewings will be reviewed before any intervention. As treatment progresses, communication will

continue. For example, if a filling turns out to be unexpectedly deep, warn that it may be sensitive post-operatively. Reassure that this will probably be mild and

self-limiting but, if not, you will be happy to provide further treatment. If the tooth is a little symptomatic the next day, the patient will not be on the phone to your receptionist in a state of alarm. If it remains completely asymptomatic, the patient will think you’re a genius (though the tooth is probably non-vital!).

Audit Finally, a great way of monitoring many of your systems of work is via clinical audit. This activity can effectively gauge aspects of your business such as waiting times or invoicing. It also helps to measure ongoing compliance with formal regulations in terms of, for example, record keeping and IR(ME)R. There can be little doubt that identifying and rectifying departures from efficient and good practice in this way helps to minimise the risk of problems, complaints and investigations. This, in turn, maximises the likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep.

Doug Hamilton is a dento-legal adviser at MDDUS

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