October 3, 2019
by Julian Perez, Vice President of Risk Management & Compliance at dentalcorp; Michelle Budd, DDS, Patient Safety Consultant at dentalcorp
With the rise of clear aligner therapy in dentistry, it has become increasingly common for general practitioners (GPs) to provide orthodontic services like Invisalign. Offering orthodontic services is a differentiating factor for general practitioners and can help set practices apart in today’s highly competitive market.
On the other hand, orthodontic care is a specialization that in very few ways resembles conservative general dentistry. In fact, in some dental schools, students will have received virtually zero orthodontic experience by the time they graduate. Provision of orthodontic services may present a significant degree of risk for poor treatment outcomes and subsequent complaints and/or malpractice lawsuits. Clinically speaking, clear aligner therapy generally tends to start off without any issues. Complications most commonly present themselves at the back end of care, after the expected completion date of treatment.
Below are 10 risk management tips for general practitioners when offering—or looking to offer—orthodontic services. Simply knowing about the risks in advance can help practices prevent many of them from getting out of hand, all while keeping patients happy.
In many cases, orthodontic treatment begins while children are “incapable minors,” meaning that parents or legal guardians are making all health care related decisions on the children’s behalves. As children grow and mature, however, they will become competent decision makers. This means that at some point, the consent that was obtained from the mother or father will no longer be valid. In most of Canada, there’s no age of consent for health care decisions. Dentists and their teams must know their patients so that they can determine whether it is the child’s or the parent’s consent that is required. If there is any ambiguity, it is recommended that, when possible, clinicians obtain consent from both parents and child.
About the Authors
Julian Perez is the Vice President of Compliance & Risk Management at dentalcorp and is responsible for the development, implementation, and oversight of company-wide standards, programs, and systems to support practices in the delivery of optimal patient care. Julian has a robust legal background having worked for a Wall Street law firm in Manhattan as well as a professional liability program providing malpractice defense to over 10,000 dentists. Julian holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a juris doctorate from Columbia University’s School of Law.
Dr. Michelle Budd works with dentalcorp’s Compliance & Risk Management team as a Patient Safety Consultant. She graduated from Western University with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. While running a busy dental practice, she also earned a Master of Public Health degree. Michelle has been a dental consultant for several insurance companies and government agencies and has travelled throughout Canada to help dental practices achieve and maintain professional compliance.
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