Should Dentists Treat Family Members? A Professional's Perspective

Dentists often face the dilemma of whether to treat family members, close friends, or employees. While it may be tempting to provide medical care out of compassion, professional objectivity may be compromised in such cases. The General Medical Council (GMC) advises registrants to avoid providing medical care to anyone with whom they have a close personal relationship. Regardless of the informality of the consultation, records should include all common observations, such as test results and details of treatment provided.

If the policy of the practice is to provide everyone with this document before the treatment of any complexity, then no one should be offended. A particularly tricky aspect of giving consent to close acquaintances is the question of money, as dentists often feel compelled to deduct fees or “simply collect the lab bill as a gesture of goodwill.” The GDC cites the example of a dentist who prescribed a one-week supply of diabetes medication to his mother who lived abroad and whose supply was running low. The Investigative Committee sympathetically noted the circumstances of the environment, but still issued a warning to the dentist. Finally, dentists should not be tempted to give their friends consent or talk about treatment during the exchange of personal emails.

If providing dentistry to family and friends is fraught with its own unique pitfalls, then the decision of whether you should also write them a prescription is a real tightrope act. If the patient is injured as a result of their treatment, careless documentation or failure to follow up on test results can lead to a lawsuit, even with the people closest to you.

Norma Dickhaus
Norma Dickhaus

Lifelong food evangelist. Amateur food maven. Award-winning explorer. Extreme internet buff. Certified twitter scholar.

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