Nine in 10 dentists fear being sued by patients
A Dental Protection survey of more than 1,100 dentist members reveals that nine out of 10 (89 per cent) are increasingly fearful of being sued by patients. Of those, three quarters (74 per cent) feel that the fear of being sued impacts on the way they practise.
This fear is not without foundation as 43 per cent of the public believe there are now more marketing and media campaigns by ‘no win, no fee’ firms compared to five years ago, according to a YouGov survey of 2,000 people.
The survey by Dental Protection found that three- quarters (74 per cent) of dentists feel that the fear of being sued is affecting the services they are able to offer, while 64 per cent of respondents feel that the fear of being sued has resulted in them making more referrals.
Nearly all respondents (98 per cent) believe that we live in an increasingly litigious society and 79 per cent of them are concerned about the impact this is having on their welfare and the way they practise, with 77 per cent of respondents admitting that the fear of being sued has caused them stress or anxiety.
Key areas where Dental Protection is seeing claims include the diagnosis of caries, periodontal disease and the outcome of endodontic treatment. Issues around consent also often feature in clinical negligence claims.
Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection, said: “Dentists work in an increasingly challenging environment. It is worrying that three out of four full-time GDPs fear being sued by patients and understandably this will undoubtedly impact on the way they practise and add to already high stress levels.
“Without proper consent and comprehensive, well-organised records, a dentist will be severely disadvantaged in defending any allegations that may surface at a later date.”