You had a challenging patient come into your office. They knew specifically what they wanted you to do, and they had a bad experience with one of their dentists in the past.
You knew that the patient had complained about their past dental work, but looking at it, you could understand why. You decided to take them on as a patient and didn’t have any reason to think they’d be unhappy with you, too.
Unfortunately, within weeks of working on their dental care plan, you received a notice of a complaint. The patient didn’t appreciate that you had a dental assistant perform part of the procedure on them, which was allowed by law. On top of that, they claimed that you neglected your duties, didn’t inform them about the risks of the medications you administered and that they were in chronic pain as a result.
What can you do to protect your dental license?
The Dental Board of California regulates dentistry practices within the state. There is a specific act, the California Dental Practice Act, which explains that violations could lead to license suspensions or criminal charges.
There are certain behaviors that may result in you losing your license. Some include:
- Abusing the patient
- Failing to keep proper records
- Using drugs or alcohol
- Practicing beyond your scope
- Allowing your professional duties to be performed by unauthorized staff members
Unfortunately, violations can lead to investigation. Those investigations might result in criminal or administrative prosecution.
That being said, what the patient thinks happened isn’t necessarily the truth. A past injury, a misunderstanding of what a dental assistant can do or even a misunderstanding of your role in their care could lead to them making a claim that is unfair and unreasonable. If you speak with your attorney, there may be a way to talk to the patient and satisfy them in a way that will end or disprove the claim.
For your part, keep all the records you can. Having good records of all patient interactions will help you show that you do take patient care seriously. It is essential that you have a strong defense, because failing to defend yourself could result in the loss of your license and career.