Preventing Dentist Malpractice Claims: Communication

Dental Malpractice Prevention > Communication Strategies

In this series of blogs, we’ve discussed the best ways for dentists to prevent malpractice claims from occurring, starting with peer review sessions. This time, we’re going to dedicate this blog to communication strategies that can minimize malpractice claims against you, your employees and your practice. Arguably the most important component to a successful 2018 is carrying a Dental Malpractice Insurance.

Start with your staff.

Communication strategies need to be applied to more than just the patients who come in. In fact, keeping staff informed on procedures, practices, and policies is the first step inconsistent communication. This way, each patient is told the same thing and no one is getting misinformation. Establish a policy for all staff members to address customer complaints, techniques, treatment options, and practical implementations.

Improve chairside communication.

There is a lot of room for error in a dentist chair, especially when it comes to communicating the patient’s issues and treatment options. To prevent miscommunication, Dental Economics recommends doing the following:

  • Tell patients the problems precisely and in simple terms.
  • Inform them of how the problems occurred.
  • Inform them of the treatment recommendations.
  • Inform them of the consequences if treatment is delayed or ignored.

Dental offices are a common source of stress and anxiety for patients, especially when they are unfamiliar with treatment or haven’t visited a dentist for a long time. Easing their minds and listening to their frustrations and issues is the first step in building rapport and trust with your patients. There should be no surprises on cost, treatment, recovery or options when it comes to their care. Next, follow up with your clients regarding their treatment. Simple reminders and checking in shows you care about their well-being. These simple strategies alone can minimize your risk of facing litigation tenfold.

Focus on the nonverbal side of communication.

Apart from what your clients say, there is another factor to consider: nonverbal cues. Always pay attention and acknowledge you patients’ expressions (verbally or non-verbally) of pain, fear, frustration, etc. Many times we engage in selective listening, whereby we hear only those things we want to hear. We tend to zero in on things our patients say that is good for us while dismissing or ignoring other parts of the exchange. Asking patients open-ended questions like, “Tell me about your past dental experiences,” gives you an opportunity to listen, listen, listen. Pay attention to your eyes and ears, says RDH Magazine.

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