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Informed Consent: Greater Risk for Practitioners

August 31st, 2009 · No Comments

In two recent cases, in Maryland and Wisconsin, proof of medical negligence was not required for the plaintiffs to bring an informed-consent claim.

So what does that mean to the average dental practitioner? A lot! We are responsible for providing the appropriate technical information by which our patients make choices, i.e. a root canal or extraction, medicate first or extract the hopeless infected tooth or even an implant or a three unit bridge? These two decisions basically stated that our informing the patient of “appropriate” technical information is not enough and that all alternate, viable medical modes of treatment, including diagnosis, as well as the benefits and risks of such treatments, must be explained.

A simple example of this is: do we use lidocaine, mepivacaine or articaine (Septocaine)? What are the advantages or each? What are the risks of using each? How often to the various issues listed with each drug arise? And on and on and on. Our dental procedures could now take one half hour and another additional half hour for informed consent. A suggestion… check with your attorney or with your state dental society and download the accepted informed consent.

That really is an ounce of prevention.

For several examples of these forms, contact Health Compliance Team, Inc.

don-post-picDr. Donald Cohen is a licensed practicing dentist in New York State for over thirty years with over 20 years of teaching experience at Columbia University SDOS and over 20 years as an Attending Dentist at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. He is past president of the New York State Society of Dentistry for Children and is currently Director of Compliance for Health Compliance Team Inc., a national compliance company delivering total on-site compliance solutions to dental offices and numerous seminars. Additionally, He is a Consultant to Henry Schein Inc. in practice transitions and compliance.

Tags: Business of Dentistry

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