Estimated read time: 5.5 mins
Your newly-launched digital edition of Riskwise is
here. It’s an exciting change that we’ve made for a number of reasons, but
overall I’m hoping it’s another big improvement to your membership with Dental Protection.
This digital edition of Riskwise offers
interactive content such as videos and links to webinar recordings, all
viewable on any device of your choice.
Riskwise has been produced in print for many years. Reading
habits move on and we think it’s time to recognise contemporary ways of
consuming content by switching to a digital format and offering you more options
for reading Riskwise. Accessing Riskwise digitally fits in
with the realities of today’s clinical practice and means you can access the
content at times that are convenient to you.
Of course, environmental considerations have also played a
key role in this move. By moving to digital only, we will be substantially
reducing our CO2 emissions and reducing paper usage. There will also be cost
savings and these will go towards enhancing your protection with us.
As for the other content of Riskwise, it’s business
as usual, with our traditional collection of case reports and thought-provoking
articles that I know you find so useful.
I hope you find this edition interesting and helpful, and do
get in touch with any thoughts, comments or suggestions on this digital
edition, via firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are two entirely opposite actions which dentists routinely expect of patients in the course of treatment. These divergent dental dispositions each serve a particular purpose and both are valuable in the successful delivery of care. These actions are responses to the requests to “open wide” and “close together”.
The former is essentially to allow us to see what is going on and what we are dealing with, and decide how to address this. Although “closing together” also has specific value when assessing occlusion, jaw relation and the comfort of a new restoration, in general a closed mouth prevents us seeing the full picture. If this was the only view we had it would be difficult to obtain an accurate understanding of the situation.
The two actions also apply to clinicians. Keeping tight-lipped is the essence of our duty of confidentiality. What happens in the surgery stays in the surgery, to coin a phrase.
But there is another duty associated with the opposite. That of a clinician’s obligation to open wide and be transparent with the provision of information to patients in our care. Whether that be in relation to treatment options, our plans to move on, pass care to a colleague or impart details of a treatment outcome, we have an obligation of openness.
Sometimes this is not easy. Like the patient who finds it difficult to “open wide” we can be reluctant to do so and are not as open as we might be.
Whether delivering or receiving, no-one likes bad news so there can be an understandable inclination to avoid sharing information of this nature, particularly if it concerns “fessing up” to a fault. Nevertheless, disclose we must.
Quite aside from the legislation enacted to give statutory weight to the requirement of open disclosure, the current Dental Council Code of Practice makes it very clear that open disclosure is an ethical expectation.
From another perspective, in practical dentolegal terms “opening wide” is a sensible strategy to manage and reduce the risk of complaint and claims.
Once a patient has knowledge of an incident, error, adverse outcome or less than perfect result the clock starts ticking as the principle of “limitation” means they have a certain proscribed time in which to take action should they wish to do so.
Non-disclosure of something the patient really should be told in the hope that this may pass unnoticed is not only unethical but will actually just throw the ball down the street, where it will in all probability be picked up by someone else at a later date and the “limitation clock” will only start ticking then.
If any pathology needs treatment, avoidable delay is unlikely to lead to a better result. Similarly when dealing with information: a patient might not be pleased to hear about a particular outcome but any unhappiness is unlikely to be helped if disclosure of the issue only occurs at a later point. Any suggestion that there has been a cover-up or attempt to avoid openness will only compound and magnify the concern over the original issue and can add a sense of betrayal. Needless to say, the dentolegal risk will be increased by this.
Opening wide with disclosure at the time is a good habit to cultivate. It will certainly help avoid being wide open to criticism later.
Now that we have the opening, welcome to this edition of Riskwise. I trust it will disclose some articles of interest.
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© 2023 The Medical Protection Society Limited. Dental Protection Limited is registered in England (No. 2374160) and is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Medical Protection Society Limited (MPS) which is registered in England (No. 00036142). Both companies use Dental Protection as a trading name and have their registered office at Level 19, The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9SG. Dental Protection Limited serves and supports the dental members of MPS with access to the full range of benefits of membership, which are all discretionary, and set out in MPS’s Memorandum and Articles of Association.