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Delaying Treatment Could Leave Dentists Open Wide for Liability

All kinds of professionals need coverage to protect them in the course of performing their work. Dentists medical liability insurance is a product that can literally save your practice in the event you are sued because a patient claims you have made an error, or were somehow negligent in the care, service or treatment you provided.

That’s what happened with a prominent professional who had been working in a large metropolitan city for five years. She treated all kinds of patients, many of whom made decisions about their treatment based on whether their insurance coverage had been exhausted for the year. On one occasion, a patient was in serious need of four crowns, yet he asked his provider to delay scheduling the treatment three months later—in the new year, when the full amount of his dental coverage would be available. The provider agreed reluctantly, yet urged the patient to return as soon as possible.

A lawsuit resulted down the line

Months passed; the patient waited more than twice the amount of time that had been discussed with his provider. Almost a year had elapsed before the patient (who had moved out of the area) went to a new provider for treatment, and learned that the lengthy delay had resulted in a worsened condition for all four teeth. The patient filed a lawsuit against the original provider for negligence, claiming that the additional injuries were the fault of the original provider. Unfortunately, the provider had not made any notation in the patient’s file that the reason that the treatment had been delayed in the first place was at the request of the patient and done only to help the patient save money by utilizing his full coverage benefits.

Avoid this kind of problem

Ensure that you communicate fully with all patients about the potential problems that can result from delaying treatment, and make sure that your recommendations as well as the patient’s decision (especially if it is against your advice) are well documented in the treatment files. For additional protection, contact a professional insurance agent, who can devise a comprehensive program that provides dentists medical liability insurance and other important coverage that you and your practice can benefit from. Call an agent today.