Many dental malpractice claims hinge on a dentist doing something that went beyond what the patient consented. Consent in the medical field is essential for avoiding malpractice claims.
Consent means the patient agrees to the procedures. To avoid a malpractice issue, dentists should ensure everything they do is something the patient agreed to have done.
One of the best ways for a dentist to avoid any claims that the patient did not know about a procedure or consent to having it done is to create a treatment plan. This is a written description of everything the dentist will do. The patient should have a copy and the plan should have signatures of consent by the patient and dentist. Having this concrete acknowledgment of services can be a saving grace when going to court for a malpractice claim.
If the treatment plan changes during the course of working with the patient, then an addendum must occur to the original document. Again, get signatures and make sure the patient is clear on the change and why it is happening.
Prior to every single procedure, the dentist should get confirmation from the patient of consent. It may be helpful to have a document for each visit that clarifies what will happen and gets consent for that visit.
While it may seem like going overboard to continuously ask for consent, it can be a lifesaver when it comes to a court case for malpractice. If the patient’s case hinges on consent or related issues, being able to supply paperwork can be a strong defense.