It was a full house at a recent dento-legal study day staged by Dental Protection, with tickets selling out well in advance of the event.
The 2014 event – now in its third year – investigated in-depth the themes of consent and confidentiality within dentistry, topics that seemingly grow ever complicated.
The Cavendish Conference Centre in London’s West End was the setting for this annual event.
Some 180 delegates listened and learned from a premier line-up of speakers, including Martin Foster, Gerard Boyle, Kevin Lewis, Raj Majithia, Joe Ingham, Neil Bacon, Kate Williams and Deepika Raino.
The broad scope of risk management knowledge – necessary when dealing with situations of consent and confidentiality – was covered, along with the delivery of some incisive and practical advice.
Stand out topics
There was a lot on offer, but a number of topics seemed to stand out in the limited space available.
Highlights of the day included Martin Foster’s amusing but informative presentation on authorisation of the treatment of a minor in today’s increasingly complex family groupings. Focusing on parental responsibility (PR), key points included:
- Not all parents hold PR
- PR can be acquired, shared or lost but cannot be given away
- There are significant differences between England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland regarding fathers and PR
- Practitioners need to be aware of the issues associated with PR and same-sex parents (who may or may not be in a civil partnership); surrogacy; step-parents and children in local authority care.
Dental Protection’s dental director, Kevin Lewis, eloquently covered the challenges and practical difficulties imposed on clinicians by the Data Protection Act, highlighting its impact on the work of Dental Protection.
Safeguarding children and the sensitive subject of ‘when to refer’ was Raj Majithia’s topic as he explained the dentist’s role. The discussion covered child safety and protection of the vulnerable adult and described accurate pathways of intervention that dental professionals can – and need to follow. Salient points were:
- On average, a child who is being abused tells four adults before being ‘heard’
- Helpful responses if a child discloses abuse to you are:
- I will help you
- I am glad you told me
- You have done the right thing to tell me.
- If a child discloses abuse to you, do not say:
- Why didn’t you tell anyone before?
- I can’t believe it. Are you sure this is true?
Raj also clarified the relevance of information sharing, and how this could be achieved when consent was required and when consent was not required.
Looking at records
Barrister Gerry Boyle was tasked with the job of identifying ‘who can look at your records’, analysing the exhaustive list of bodies that have statutory rights and the methods they may employ. Patient confidentiality surrounding the disclosure of records was also clearly brought into sharp focus, as was the need to anonymise the records in certain situations. Any practitioners asked to provide patient records to a third party were told to contact Dental Protection in the first instance.
Following the success of this year’s Dento-legal Study Day, preparation for the 2015 event has already begun. If you are interested in attending, please keep an eye on the Dental Protection website – www.dentalprotection.org – as further information will be announced in the near future.