Risk Management in the Dental Office

This article is devoted to risk-management strategies regarding oral surgical procedures in the general dental office. Lawsuits are more likely to be filed following poor outcomes related to oral surgical procedures rather than after operative or prosthetic dental procedures. The article is not meant to discourage practitioners from performing oral surgical procedures if they have the experience, training, and appropriate skill set to complete the planned procedure. Rather, it advises clinicians as to the steps one can take to limit the chances of litigation from occurring, and avoid the emotionally and painful time-consuming process associated with a malpractice lawsuit.

This article is devoted to risk-management strategies and is most appropriate for this issue of Dental Clinics , whose main focus is on oral surgical procedures in the general dental office.

Lawsuits are more likely to be filed following poor outcomes related to oral surgical procedures rather than after operative or prosthetic dental procedures; in addition, the total dollar amount of the lawsuit awards are almost always significantly higher in cases involving poor oral surgical outcomes than in the case of general dental procedures most often performed.

This opening discourse is not meant to discourage or dissuade general practitioners from performing oral surgical procedures if they have the experience, training, and appropriate skill set to complete the planned procedure; rather, it is intended to advise practitioners as to the steps one can take to limit the chances of any litigation from ever occurring, and thus avoid the almost always emotionally and painful time-consuming process associated with a malpractice lawsuit ( Box 1 ).

Box 1

  • 1.

    Malpractice: Failure to meet the duty of care and/or breach of accepted standards of care as defined by the profession

  • 2.

    Standards of Care: The duty of a physician to use the care and skill ordinarily used by reputable members of the profession practicing under similar circumstances

  • 3.

    Summons and Complaint: A document “served” to the dentist, which begins the actual lawsuit process listing a “Bill of particulars” (outlining the claimed negligence and injuries sustained)

  • 4.

    Statute of Limitations: Each state has a specific law that specifies how long a patient has to file a lawsuit after an incident occurs

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Oct 29, 2016 | Posted by in General Dentistry | Comments Off on Risk Management in the Dental Office
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