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Guarding against litigations

There has been an increase in the number of cases of malpractice litigation against colleagues within the health profession as a result of actual or perceived malpractice.

Patients are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about the various treatment options and modalities. However, some of this information may have been obtained from the Internet via Google, Yahoo and other search engines, or on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and others, which may be incorrectly applied to the patient’s present condition.

The Professional Board for Dental Therapy and Oral Hygiene wishes to advise all practitioners registered under its ambit, whether employed in the private or public sector, to guard against such litigious action being taken against them by:

  • Obtaining Full Informed Consent, after having a thorough conversation with the patient, and after having taken into consideration the patient’s needs and expectations;
  • Ensuring that practitioners practice within the current and appropriate scope of practice;
  • Ensure that practitioners are aware of current practices and advances in treatment options and modalities through continuous professional development;
  • The infection prevention, control and reduction protocols are of the highest standards;
  • Making sure that equipment is regularly serviced and in good working order;
  • Ensuring the design of the facility is such that it reduces the possibility of patients injuring themselves. For example, no loose carpets on the floor, no electric and other cables laying on the floor;
  • Making sure that all staff members are appropriately trained to deal with medical emergencies – that they produce a valid first aid certificate;
  • Keeping thorough and accurate medical records; and
  • Purchasing appropriate and adequate indemnity insurance so that practitioners have legal protection and recourse if legal action is taken against them.

Prevention is better than cure and is an adage that holds true. All oral health practitioners should undertake regular risk management audits to identify potential risks to themselves and their patients and eliminate such risks.

All oral health professionals further note that the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) has been established, and that they comply with the standards and norms that have been developed as provided for by the National Health Amendment Act, 2013 (Act 12 of 2013).

Last Updated on 1 July 2016 by HPCSA Corporate Affairs