Dealing with dental tourism

dental tourism, aeroplaneDebbie Herbst, dentolegal adviser at the Dental Defence Union (DDU) advises on how to manage patients who have received treatment outside the UK otherwise known as dental tourism.

Orthodontists are increasingly seeing patients who have previously received dental treatment in practices based outside of the UK. The extent of treatment for these patients will vary according to that patient’s individual circumstances.

Likely candidates for dental tourism

Patients receiving treatment abroad often fall into one of the following categories:

  • Those who are having orthodontic treatment outside of the UK but require urgent care.
  • Patients who have moved to the UK from another country where they have undergone previous orthodontic treatment
  • Those who have travelled outside the UK to undergo specific dental treatment, which may include orthodontic treatment.

To illustrate, a DDU member recently contacted the dentolegal advice line. They explained that they had recently seen a new patient complaining of discomfort following recent treatment provided overseas.. The member was unsure about the extent of the advice and treatment they should provide to this patient.

Advice from the DDU

The DDU advises that orthodontists assess new patients thoroughly and explain treatment and findings in clear language and understandable terms. Regardless of whether previous care has been provided in or outside the UK. If the patient is unable to understand you because of a language barrier, you must consider ways of overcoming this. This could be for example arranging for an interpreter to attend.

It may be appropriate to contact their current/previous orthodontist if you need more details or clarification about care provided – subject to obtaining consent from the patient. Accurately note in the patient records any…

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