The Golden Rule of Dentistry Michael R. Ragan, DDS, JD, LLM - Medico Legal Consultant
"At some point in time, you will likely inherit a patient from another provider. That patient’s experience with the previous provider may or may not have been positive. Moreover, the condition of the patient’s teeth or restorations may make you say to yourself, “What was the previous dentist doing?” While your observations may seem accurate at the time, great caution should be taken when memorializing those feelings in either writing or conversation with your patient.
It Is Easy to Take Sides When You Only Know One of Them Most would likely agree that a patient’s recollection of events or treatment may be less than accurate. There may also be details left out, if your patient feels these details might paint them in a negative light. Details that may be omitted from the patient narrative could include: 1. The patient’s level of compliance; 2. The perceived error was the result of the dental lab and not the DDS; 3. The DDS attempted to fix the problem and the patient refused; and/or 4. The DDS in question may have not performed the procedure in the first place. Consider this scenario: “Mrs. Jones,” a new patient, presents with moderate-to-severe periodontal disease. You learn that her last dental appointment was six months earlier. She states that she received dental cleanings on a semiannual basis from another dentist for three years prior to seeing you. You ask the patient if she has ever seen a Periodontist, and she replies, “No.”