As a dental professional, your risk management strategy will go a long way in providing you with the peace of mind that you are doing everything in your power to reduce the risks of a malpractice suit. While you should have dentist professional liability insurance, providing your patients with the best possible care should be your primary concern.
By striving to ensure patient satisfaction in every aspect of your practice, you are on the right track. The fact is that unhappy or dissatisfied patients are more likely to file claims against you. Some patients may be more difficult than others, but your patients also have reasonable expectations concerning treatment outcome before you begin to render any care.
Communication and documentation are keys to a successful practice
Communication and documentation are the two keys to a successful risk management plan and should include the following:
- Informing patients of untoward events or bad outcomes. Do not attempt to conceal this information.
- Retaining complete, accurate, and unaltered records, including all pertinent diagnostics.
- Performing thorough examinations and documenting your findings.
- Obtaining adequate medical and dental histories on all patients and updating them regularly. Careful documentation of the information in the patient’s dental record is crucial.
- Documenting the receipt of written (or oral patient authorization) or any informed consent in the patient’s dental record, as well as the receipt of informed refusal for any treatment recommendation refused by the patient.
- Before sending any account to collection, carefully review the patient’s treatment outcomes, attitude, and level of satisfaction.
Whenever you terminate a doctor-patient relationship, send the patient a letter that states the relationship is ending, while providing the patient with information about treatment needs, access to emergency care, finding another dental practitioner, and obtaining a copy of the patient record.
Finally, when selecting a dentist professional liability insurer, be certain your insurance company also has a strong risk management program in place.