Buying a dental practice: a health warning

There are some significant advantages to buying an existing dental practice – a ready-made patient base, premises already operating as a dental surgery, equipment and even staff.

Of course, you would be well advised to study that existing patient base.

In theory at least, the more patients the better your chances of building the practice business through referrals and range of treatments.

But you also need to consider the patient demographic, the drop off rate and the broader geographic, economic and social situation of the practice as well as its financial records and projections.

Let us assume all this has been done and the sale has been completed and here you are, ready to greet your new patients.

The first patient’s dental health is extremely poor yet their records show that they have been seen regularly by your predecessor for several years. Unfortunately, this isn’t a one-off and the same story occurs with patient after patient.

Further investigation reveals that not a single X-ray had been performed at that practice for more than seven years.

You are now left in a situation whereby every patient you see is requiring extensive time consuming treatment. Most patients require multiple fillings and unfortunately you are not able to claim payment for the work that is taking up so much of your time.

Do you abandon the existing patients and risk ruining your reputation or treat them and risk ruining your bank balance?

Unfortunately, this is a true story but it does have a happy ending as the purchasing dentist had been wise enough to use a specialist dental solicitor who had made provision in the sale contract covering defective or inadequate treatment that stated any defective or inadequate treatment discovered in the first two years following the sale would be paid for by the selling dentist at a private rate.

The amount of work that the new dentist would have been required to perform was estimated at around £300,000 which begs two questions – could you afford to carry out this level of treatment without payment and could you afford not to use a specialist solicitor?

For more information call Ray Goodman on 0151 707 0090 or email [email protected]


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