Dental Protection is accusing ‘no win no fee’ lawyers of targeting dental patients, in particular cases related to periodontal disease.
A recent Yougov survey found that 43% of the public believe there are more marketing campaigns from ‘no win no fee’ firms compared to five years ago.
Dental Protection has also highlighted the increasing number of stories in the media about successful claims against dentists, claiming this could influence the public’s opinion of dentistry.
‘We recognise that dentists work in a challenging environment,’ Raj Rattan, dental director at Dental Protection, said.
‘Our data shows that a full-time general dental practitioner can now expect to receive two clinical negligence claims over a typical career.
‘We continue to see a substantial number of claims relating to the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease.
‘Many claims relate to treatment carried out many years ago, and we are seeing “no win no fee” lawyers increasingly target periodontal-related claims due to higher financial rewards.
‘The fact that almost half of the public surveyed believe that there are now more marketing campaigns by “no win no fee” firms reinforces this and it is worrying.
‘We know all too well the impact that a claim can have on a dentist, and how the associated media reporting we sometimes see once a claim is settled, risks impacting on the reputation of the practice and the wider profession.’
Around a quarter (23%) of the public would be likely to take legal action if their dental treatment had led to problems or complications.
The Yougov survey also found that 39% of the public admit they have higher expectations of the quality of treatment dentists provide now than they did 10 years ago.
Despite negative stories about dentists appearing in the media, 65% of the public would not be put off going to the dentist if they read a negative news story.
‘Many dentists may take comfort in the fact that nearly two thirds of the public surveyed would not be put off going to the dentist if they read a negative story about one,’ Raj continued.
‘Tackling the challenging environment for dentists, and the rising cost of clinical negligence, is something we feel strongly about and that is why Dental Protection is campaigning for a package of legal reforms, including the introduction of fixed recoverable costs.
‘All too often, the legal costs associated with clinical negligence claims can outweigh the compensation a patient receives.
‘One such example was a straightforward dental claim, which settled for £3,500, but saw legal costs claimed at £11,200.
‘We know patient’s expectations are also increasing and unmet expectations can result in a complaint, which if not handled effectively can become a claim.
‘We always encourage dentists to be open and honest in their communications with patients, so expectations about treatments and outcomes are managed.
‘Where a patient expresses dissatisfaction at their treatment, dentists should take the necessary steps to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.’
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