The standard for the duty to inform patients about risks: from the responsible dentist to the reasonable patient.
SourceBritish Dental Journal, 201, 4, (2006), pp. 207-210
Article / Letter to editor
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Preventative Restorative Dentistry
British Dental Journal
SubjectEBP 3: Effective Primary Care and Public Health; NCEBP 7: Effective primary care and public health
Complaints or claims against dentists by dissatisfied patients usually consist of three parts: the dentist did not perform the treatment as s/he should have done; the dentist did not inform the patient properly about the risks involved with the treatment; the dentist did not keep records. In most cases it is not too difficult for a judge or dental board member, if necessary with the aid of an expert witness, to decide whether the treatment was indeed below standard. The same applies to dentist's record keeping. The recrimination concerning the information given is something else. This deals with the extent of the duty to inform a patient as well as the proof that sufficient information was given. These difficulties do not only appear in court, but also in dental surgeries. This article will focus on the evolution in the jurisprudence concerning the duty to inform patients about risks as well as on the recently changed guidelines of the General Dental Council (GDC) regarding informed consent. Finally some simple tests will show that informing patients about risks does not have to be a risky and time consuming business for the dentist.
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