Dentists should cultivate and maintain an image of professionalism and competence in the dental office. Offering patients a professional atmosphere requires friendly and competent personnel. Attention to every aspect of a professional office is important.
One of the most important aspects of maintaining dental professionalism are the clinical notes. Thorough, detailed clinical notes may help in the defence of malpractice claims. Dentists must obtain a complete medical and dental history of each patient, date it and update the note with every visit, and record progress, symptoms, and changes. Dentists must also examine patients thoroughly, record their findings, and provide a working diagnosis. The clinical notes should contain information that supports or challenges the diagnosis with tests so treatment and technique can be defended later, if necessary. Be sure to follow the Standard of Practice: Patient Records.
Ethically, dentists must treat each patient with dignity and respect; maintain good rapport; be honest about problems that arise; and refer patients out where necessary.
Dentists should not exceed their competence by making extravagant promises to patients, or permitting the patient to dictate treatment. Even if a dentist has a strong relationship with a patient they should not talk to patients about confidential information and should avoid criticizing other medical practitioners. If the professional relationship has broken down between the dentist and the patient, the dentist should not continue to treat the patient and should not bill for care or treatment that might reasonably be expected to result in a malpractice suit. Finally, dentists should always be encouraged to contact their professional liability program (“PLP”) with questions and, of course, notices of claims being advanced.
Source : Dolden Wallace Folick LLP