The Dental industry is an extremely sensitive one and in this post we try to address the importance of dental treatment consent. In this post we will cover the following aspects of dental treatment:
- What is dental treatment consent?
- Why is it important to have dental treatment consent?
- How to use a dental consent form
- What to include in your dental consent form
What is dental treatment consent?
A dental treatment consent or an informed consent is the basis for every dental treatment you propose to and perform on each patient. Dental treatment consents apply to almost all kinds of oral treatment. According to state laws, dental treatments include but not limited to: dental restorations, sealants, extractions, exam, cleaning, local anesthetic, and nitrous oxide.
Why is it important to have patient consent?
When a patient visits your dental practice, whether for a hygiene check for a serious dental issue, they expect that you provide them with all the information they would need to make the right decision. Thinking from a patient’s perspective, an informed dental treatment consent can ease out their decision making. You may ask how?
Well, generally speaking, obtaining consent from the patients means that he/she who agrees to undergo a dental treatment does so only after being made aware of the associated outcomes, which could have both benefits and risks. We are all aware that there is some degree of risk involved with all processes but it is up to the patient to determine if the danger associated with a treatment is acceptable.
How to use a dental consent form?
- Ensure you list all the risks involved in the consent form: Make sure your consent form includes all the risks and downsides of the treatment. There are two important reasons to do this: a) It is ethically the right thing to do. b) Legally very important as the dentist may feel a legal liability in case the patient was not correctly informed about the risks.
- Make sure patients read and understand: As humans it is our nature to avoid reading legal documents. The same is true with your patients as well. They may just sign it without actually reading the consent document. But it is your responsibility as a dentist to educate your patient and make sure they are informed in detail about the risks and downsides of the treatment before actually signing the consent form.
- Under 18 patients should not sign themselves: Laws state that minors are not allowed to sign their own legal consent. Ensure your minor patients too have a consent form but signed by their legal guardian or a parent.
- Document and store: Once the document is signed, file it with all the other records of the patient for future reference.
What to include in your dental consent form?
As explained above the consent form is your means to let patients know about the treatment and its potential risks/downsides. But it is important to know what exactly you need to include:
- A detailed explanation of all the dental issues the patient has
- A detailed list of proposed procedures to be performed
- The rationale for these procedures and their expected outcomes
- Alternatives to the Recommended Dental Treatment
- Risks associated with the Recommended Dental Treatment