Dentists feel they are more likely to be sued

Dentists feel more likely to be sued than five years ago

Dentists feel they are more likely to be sued now than they were five years ago according to a new survey.

The survey from Dental Protection of over 700 dental members reveals that 91% of respondents believe they are more likely to be sued now than five years ago.

Of those, 81% believe the rise in media coverage of clinical negligence is the main reason, followed by high patient expectations (58%) and workload making it difficult to provide the best care (28%).

Dentists are facing immense pressures, including rising patient expectations, heavy workloads, complex treatment options and a stream of negative media coverage,’ said Kevin Lewis, dental director at Dental Protection.

‘A fear of being sued added onto the shoulders of dentists will not only impact on the individual, but also more widely on the practice of dentistry.’

Defensive dentistry

The survey also reveals that 72% of respondents are fearful of being sued by patients, with this fear impacting on the way 81% practise dentistry.

This is not without foundation as 42% of survey respondents had received a claim for clinical negligence during their dental career and 66% knew a colleague who had been involved in a claim.

The survey also showed:

  • Of the 42% of members who had received a claim, 42% had received the claim in the last two years, 24% three to five years ago, 18% six to 10 years ago and 16% 11+ years ago
  • Being involved in a claim impacted on members’ stress/anxiety (83%), morale (65%), confidence (55%) and health and wellbeing (55%).

‘Being sued can significantly damage the health of dentists,’ Kevin Lewis continued.

‘In our recent survey, 83% of respondents stated that their involvement in a claim impacted on their stress and 65% felt it impacted on their morale.

‘t is not just if a dentist is sued directly but their experiences of seeing colleagues go through the process that can also cause anxiety, affect their confidence and lead to them practising defensively.

‘It is encouraging to see that if something does go wrong, 64% of members believe an effective complaints procedure within the practice can help to reduce the likelihood of being sued.

‘The reality in today’s environment is that dentists should expect to receive and act upon more complaints about their care, but it cannot be right that they work in fear of litigation.’

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