LEGAL CONCEPTS INFLUENCING .LlABILITY RISK REDUCTION
Patient lnfcrrnatlon and Office Communication INFORMED CONSENT
RECORDS AND DOCUMENTATION REFERRAL TO ANOTHER GENERAL DENTIST OR SPECIALIST COMPLICATIONS PATIENT MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS – Noncompliant Patient Patient Abandonment COMMON AREAS OF DENTAL LITIGATION WHEN A PATIENT THREATENS TO SUE MANAGED CARE ISSUES Telemedicine, Electronic Records, and the Internet SUMMARY
In recent years there has. been an increase in the number of malpractice claims brought against dentists. This trend has had a profound impact on several aspects of dentistry. Some of the most common lawsuits are related to extraction of the wrong tooth, failure to diagnose a problem, and lack of proper informed consent. The stress associated with the increased possibility of litigation influences the entire office. Malpractice insurance premiums are high, contributing to increased patient costs. Dentists feel pressured into practicing “defensive dentistry,” second-guessing sound clinical decisions based on concerns about potential litigation. The influence of litigation on dentistry has resulted in an effort by the profession to reduce the risk of legal liability by more closely examining treatment decisions” improved documentation, and better dentist-patient relationships. Reviewing all aspects of dental practice to provide the best possible patient care and to reduce unnecessary legal liability is termed risk ‘management. Although n9 substitute exists for sound clinical practice, non treatment lssue prompt many lawsuits. These, often include miss communication and misunderstanding’ between the dentist and patient and poor record keeping, which in turn’ present opportunities for patient’s lawyers to criticize. This chapter reviews concepts of liability, risk management, methods of risk reduction, and actions that should be taken if a malpractice suit is filed.