Dental teams should offer recall appointments based on a patient’s needs, says the Dental Defence Union (DDU).
The group argue against a blanket ban on recall appointments, instead pushing for dentists to assess on a case-by-case basis.
It states that not only is the patient given a choice but it also reduces the risk of future allegations. For example, issues such as a late diagnosis or deterioration in condition or prognosis.
Regarding decision making, the DDU recommends that members follow current guidance from a responsible body of opinion. However, members who act in good faith can seek clinical assistance.
This is regardless of what their clinical decision may be when caring for patients during the pandemic.
‘Patients are entitled to make their own decisions as to whether they choose to accept such an invitation and attend,’ John Makin, head of the DDU, said.
‘Indeed, given the current circumstances many patients will have their own view as to the appropriateness of recall appointments. Also, some patients may complain if they are offered a recall appointment and others if they are not.
‘For some patients with high clinical needs, the risk of deferring might outweigh the risk of attending, while for others it may be possible to confidently extend the recall period without greatly adding to the risk.’
He added: ‘When considering how to approach decision-making, it’s often useful to “start with the end in mind”.
‘In other words, to ask yourself: “If I follow this particular course of action and I receive a complaint, what would I say in response?”
‘If, when answering that question, you can confidently point to a decision-making process that put patients’ best interests first and is in accordance with a responsible body of opinion (such as a current standard operating procedure), then the risk of justifiable criticism is greatly reduced.’
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