As dentists we understand the pro and cons of dental treatments, but rarely do our patients. Obtaining informed consent is the process of giving a patient enough information to make an informed decision and is the basis for all of our recommended treatment. Do all procedures require informed consent? Probably not all, i.e., oral exam. However, informed consent is considered standard of care and is strongly recommended for most procedures: oral surgery, endodontic, prosthodontics, and Invisalign, etc. Our Colorado dental malpractice carrier (www.tdplt.com) the Dentists Professional Liability Trust, fields calls on a daily basis on the most effective way to present and maintain consent for the benefit of both the dentist and the patient.
Informed consent is “not” just a paper to sign. Sometimes the message is misconstrued that informed consent is just a sheet of paper to be signed quickly. This could not be further from the truth. Informed consent provides a cognitive checklist of areas to review with patients prior to performing a procedure. Ultimately, the goal is to provide significant information about the procedure, allowing time for feedback (reflection), and clarification so a patient’s expectations can be managed. Providing time for the patient to make an informed decision increases patient autonomy and can help reduce the malpractice gap. Obviously, with certain procedures time is of the essence while not with others. Deciding on having a root canal is much more time sensitive than deciding to do Invisalign or dental veneers.
For more information on the Informed Consent process learn more in the Resource Library.
The Dentists Professional Liability Trust of Colorado is a dental malpractice carrier and works in partnership with the Colorado Dental Association and seeks to provide our dental community with resources to help Colorado dentists and their patients by providing tools and information to improve the understanding of dental procedures.