A sharp increase in claims against dentists is a result of a growing ‘compensation culture’ here in the UK
That’s according to dental defence organisation, MDDUS.
Figures from MDDUS’ Annual Report for 2012 reveal a 53% rise in claims intimated against general dental practitioners over the year compared to 2011, while there is also a 67% increase in the number of GDC cases handled.
A small part of the increase in claims can be attributed to its growing membership with dental members increasing by 3.3% in 2012.
But the steep rise reflects the trend in increased litigation with MDDUS seeing evidence of a growing compensation culture in the UK over the last few years.
MDDUS’s head of dental division, Aubrey Craig, said: ‘This rise in claims may be related to the harsh economic climate of recent years but is being manifested in increasing claim rates and consequent legal costs.
‘Dentists are being subjected to a rapidly growing number of claims, yet we see no evidence to suggest a drop in standards or patient care.’
‘The increase in regulatory cases is consistent with figures reported by the GDC and reflects a number of factors including a greater proportion of dentists now being reported to regulators by employers or colleagues.
‘Nowadays, dentists are also more risk-aware and are therefore more likely to seek advice early rather than risk problems escalating into complaints or legal claims.’
Despite the increase in claims against MDDUS members in 2012, more than 70% of dental claims were settled without a payment being made, while 86.8% of GDC cases (figure from 2011) concluded with no sanctions imposed against MDDUS members.
As for the type of calls MDDUS received last year, ‘difficulties with patients’ was the most frequent reason for a dentist to contact our dental advisory team.
Craig added: ‘Other topics that regularly concern our members include complaints, dental records, problems with colleagues and treatment planning.’