Oral Health Group

Stop Recommending Treatment and Start Prescribing Dental Care

March 18, 2012
by sandie

Do You Want to Enjoy a Greater Level of Case Acceptance?
Stop Recommending Treatment and Start Prescribing Dental Care
When you make a recommendation it provides your patients with a choice. It may be what you recommend, but the patient doesn’t have to follow through with it. If you are recommending treatment, you are not motivating your patient to take action. If there is a known condition that you have identified and you know how to treat it, prescribe the care the patient needs to treat the existing condition. The decay is not going to magically disappear and the active infection from periodontal disease will not cure itself. If a medical doctor diagnosis an active disease or illness, he/she will prescribe the care that the patient needs to restore health and function. How is dentistry different?

Here is the definition of a recommendation:
verb (used with object)
1. to present as worthy of confidence, acceptance, use, etc.; commend; mention favourably: to recommend an applicant for a job; to recommend a book.
2. to represent or urge as advisable or expedient: to recommend caution.
3. to advise, as an alternative; suggest (a choice, course of action, etc.) as appropriate, beneficial, or the like: He recommended the blue-plate special.
1. to lay down, in writing or otherwise, as a rule or a course of action to be followed; appoint, ordain, or enjoin.
2. Medicine/Medical . to designate or order the use of (a medicine, remedy, treatment, etc.).
3 Law . to claim a right or title by virtue of long use and enjoyment; make a prescriptive claim. (usually followed by for or to ).

Isn’t that what your patients expect you to do? Patients expect you to provide them with a diagnosis and a treatment plan. That is why they are in your office and in your chair. If a condition is present in their mouths that requires intervention, prescribe the best course of treatment with the most positive outcome , followed by alternative treatment options. Your patients expect for you to tell them what they need, make a ‘prescriptive claim’.
“You have active decay on your upper right molar. That decay needs to be removed and the tooth restored to proper function. Here is the action that I prescribe…”
“You have an active infection in your gums that requires intervention. To treat this effectively, I prescribe hygiene therapy every 3 months…”
Don’t forget to inform the patient about the risks and consequences of not having the treatment. This is not only a matter of good ethics and due diligence, but it is what your patient expects.
The patient always has a choice of treatment options and you should present your patient with all of the information that he/she needs to make a fully informed decision. You must be careful not to allow your prejudgements to take over and make the decision for the patient.
Help your patients to feel that they are in control of their health care decisions without letting the tail wag the dog. ‘Prescribe’ the care that they need and ‘recommend’ the blue plate special for lunch.

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