Dentist treating family members?

The opinion further cautions that professional objectivity may be compromised in treating family members and affecting the medical care provided. Dentists should carefully consider the particular circumstances that arise before deciding to treat a close friend, family member, or employee. MY medical colleagues often express amazement that dentists routinely treat family and friends. This is mainly because the GMC takes a very restrictive view of this practice, advising 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. Given this example, one must fear for the poor dentist who succumbs to the pressure of a lifelong golf partner and gives him a penicillin script for a “sore throat”. Dentists who extend the rules for friends generally do so out of compassion and not for personal gain. Likewise, former auxiliary staff who may have left the practice in less than friendly circumstances may feel willing to question any treatment offered to them free of charge, particularly if it was of the exotic variety.

If the policy of the practice is to provide everyone (except, perhaps, his mother) with this document before the treatment of any complexity, then no one, not even his best friend, 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.” In support of this position, 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, don't be tempted to give your friend consent or talk about treatment during the exchange of personal emails.

If the investigation of a subsequent complaint reveals inadequate consent or questionable treatment planning, the fact that these failures were the product of kindness will receive little sympathy. 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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