Patients attending for dental treatment in the UK are very aware of their rights and the responsibilities of the dental profession. In addition there are many law firms that specialise in medical and dental negligence on a no win no fee basis. Unfortunately errors and mistakes happen but in today's litigious society patients are quick to point the finger when things go wrong, and expect compensation.
It is therefore a requirement that all dentists in the UK have adequate and appropriate insurance cover in the event that a claim is made against them.
The General Dental Council (GDC) is very clear that patients who suffer damage should be able to recover any money they might be entitled to through compensation.
The GDC recognises cover from:
- Membership of dental defence organisations, eg Dental Protection, Dental Defence Union (DDU) and the Medical Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS).
- Professional indemnity insurance held by an individual or your employer.
- NHS / Crown indemnity.
It is every dentist's responsibility to ensure that they have the required cover, whether this is arranged by the dentist or their employer. If you are relying on crown indemnity you may also want to consider additional insurance by being a member of a dental defence organisation for those aspects not covered by crown indemnity. Every dentist must be able to provide evidence of their insurance if a patient makes a complaint to the General Dental Council.
The cost of insurance will vary according to the length of time you have been qualified and the type of treatments / specialty you provide in your practice. The dental defence organisations have websites and produce annual reports highlighting the problems, case studies and type of negligence claims made by dental patients and provide suggestions of how to avoid problems.