Dental malpractice insurance is needed to help provide coverage for dentists who are accused of malpractice. Although the insurance is there to protect you financially, it is best to avoid a malpractice suit altogether. There are several avoidable reasons that a dentist may be the sued for malpractice. Here are a few:
1. Lack of Communication with a Difficult Patient
If you are a dental professional, you know how difficult it can be to deal with a patient who is angry and rude. However, if you become offended and choose not to speak with that patient again, you can end up with a lawsuit.
The patient may feel abandoned and select another dental provider. If the new dentist is critical of your dental work, the patient may believe that you did not provide proper care. In turn, he or she may file a law suit against you. Often, a difficult patient only wants to be heard. A gentle explanation can save you the ordeal of dealing with angry accusations in court.
2. Failure to Communicate the Results of a Cancer Screening
As a dentist, you must communicate your cancer screening findings to your patient, even if you have been providing care to that patient for a prolonged period. If you find no evidence of cancer during the screening, don't fail to mention the clear results to the patient. If the patient does not realize that you conducted a screening but is later diagnosed with oral cancer, he or she may assume you were negligent. In addition, regardless of your findings, be sure to document them in writing. The documentation can provide proof of your due diligence.
3. Not Having a Signed, Informative Consent Form
Before you conduct a procedure, the patient should be informed of the risks involved and a consent form should be signed. The form should indicate that the information has been communicated and that the patient agrees to have the service performed. The document should be educational and easy to understand.
In addition, be sure to document any verbal discussion between you and your patient about the upcoming procedure. Note the questions and concerns that were reviewed, but also document your procedural results. If your patient files a malpractice suit, your documentation may have to prove that the procedure was explained and performed well.
There are actions that you can take to help avoid a malpractice suit. However, some circumstances will be beyond your control. Be sure that you have enough dental malpractice insurance to cover possible damages. Contact your insurance agent today to review your current coverage.