Worried about litigation? It’s time to fight the fear
Mahmood Mawjee talks about the stress of litigation in dentistry and how dentists can mitigate the fear and the associated stress.
For the past few years, litigation has been rising in UK dentistry. It has become an immense source of stress for many dental professionals, who – despite always acting in their patients’ best interests – worry about getting complaints.
The reality is that current regulations protect the public far more than the profession. This can leave clinicians feeling vulnerable.
Dr Mahmood Mawjee believes these concerns about litigation start very early on in a dentist’s career: ‘As soon as dentists come out of dental school and into practice, they want to treat patients well. Those that enter this profession do so because they care. They want to help people and make a difference in their lives.
‘However, the current landscape makes clinicians feel like they always have to cover their backs so many constantly worry about litigation – and for good reason.
‘We have a really high rate of litigation in the UK. It is very common for complaints to be made against even the most diligent of clinicians.
‘If a case arises, it can affect every area of a dentist’s life. From their career to their family life and their mental health.
‘This is made worse by the fact that dentists can feel very alone. The GDC and indemnity firms are firmly on the patient’s side. The lack of support for clinicians is very isolating. Plus, many worry about what they would do if they lost their licence.
‘The constant anxiety about patient complaints creates a detrimental level of stress for individuals.
‘I have seen many dentists leave the profession entirely in order to rid themselves of this pressure. However, many still love dentistry. So finding ways to mitigate the fear of litigation and the associated stress is essential.’
Shifting to private dentistry
While litigation exists in all areas of dentistry and every dentist is very aware of it, Dr Mawjee suggests that the gap between those in private and NHS services is significant: ‘There’s a big difference between private and NHS sectors.
‘Privately, professionals are able to offer more options and therefore are more likely to deliver the experience and the results that patients want, reducing the chance of litigation. Also, dentists providing private dentistry tend to be more confident in their skills and have more experience. This allows them to deal with complaints before they escalate, or prevent them in the first place.
‘I think it’s important for all dentists to experience the NHS dental environment. But moving into or at least increasing the amount of private work they do can help to reduce litigation concerns for some professionals.’
Stop worrying about litigation
Dr Mawjee will discuss all of this in further detail as part of two sessions at the Dentistry Show London in September. Speaking from the NHS & Business Theatre, he will present: How dentists can stop worrying about litigation all the time.
‘I will explore some practical solutions to help clinicians better manage the stress and worry less about litigation,’ Dr Mawjee says.
‘I want to empower dentists to deal with the risks of litigation. This will help create a healthier mental approach to potential complaints.
‘Therefore I will offer some ideas and techniques that clinicians can implement from Monday morning when they return to their practices. It’s about expanding their skillset to include effective coping mechanisms, improving their mental and physical health, and just helping them enjoy what they do once again.
‘I will certainly take questions and would encourage delegates to get involved so we can have a really interactive session.’
Beyond changing individual mindset towards litigation, Dr Mawjee considers what else could improve the situation for dentists in the future: ‘On a wider scale, it would be hugely beneficial for the GDC to look after dentists as well as protecting patients. Although this looks unlikely.
‘I also believe we should include training for stress management in the curriculum at dental school. It can help clinicians build mental resilience from the very beginning.’
Dentistry Show London
This is just one of many highly relevant topics at the Dentistry Show London. It is also one of the first live dental events in 18 months!
There will be 100+ speakers delivering 100+ hours of inspiring content and 140+ exhibitors will demonstrate the latest innovations on the market to support clinical excellence.
In addition, more than 3,000 visitors are expected to attend. So there is plenty of opportunity for networking and meeting up with friends after many months apart.
Dr Mawjee offers his final thoughts on why you should attend his sessions: ‘There is always going to be litigation. Even if you have the best hands in the world, you will get complaints.
‘We can minimise the impact by building mental resilience, ensuring the confidence to carry out work and communicating effectively with patients.
‘Life is about being happy, but a lot of dentists are not.
‘This is still a great profession. But it is stressful and dentists need to learn to deal with that aspect better. I aim to give delegates one idea that could change their lives. Don’t miss my sessions at the Dentistry Show London!’
The Dentistry Show London is on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 September at Olympia London.
Register for free at https://london.dentistryshow.co.uk/