All registrants should know who to contact for advice – a local health trust or board, for example – if they have concerns about potential abuse or neglect, says the GDC in a new statement on child protection.
The GDC points out that dentists and DCPs are well positioned to observe and identify facial and other injuries. Bruising, burns, bite marks and eye injuries could suggest that a concern should be raised.
GDC President Hew Mathewson said: ‘It is the responsibility of all members of the dental team to know what to do if they are concerned about the possible abuse or neglect of children and vulnerable adults.
‘If you make a professional judgement and decide not to share your concern with the appropriate authority, you must be able to justify how you came to this decision.
‘If you are unsure of the local procedures in your area, you have a duty to find out what they are, whether you work for the NHS or in private practice.’
The GDC considers the term ‘vulnerable adults’ to mean ‘a person above the age of 18 years who is or may be in need of community care services [including healthcare] by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is unable to take care of him- or herself, or unable to protect him- or herself against significant harm or exploitation’.