Is this Good Care ?

When the Dental Council or Dental Board considers whether a particular dental treatment should be the subject of immediate action assessment, investigation or prosecution, there has to be guidelines as to what treatment is appropriate and safe.

The Dental Board Code of Conduct at 2.2 list  indicators of good care should receive particular attention as to what constitutes good care and some relevant ones are listed below.

a)  recognising and working within the limits of a practitioner’s competence and scope of practice, which may change over time .

b)  ensuring that practitioners maintain adequate knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective care.

c)  when moving into a new area of practice, ensuring that a practitioner has undertaken sufficient training and/or qualifications to achieve competency in that area .

f) considering the balance of benefit and harm in all clinical management decisions .

h) providing treatment options based on the best available information and not influenced by financial gain or incentives .

j) supporting the right of the patient or client to seek a second opinion .

k) consulting and taking advice from colleagues when appropriate .

m) ensuring that the personal views of a practitioner do not affect the care of a patient or client adversely .

n) practising in accordance with the current and accepted evidence base of the health profession, including clinical outcomes 

o) evaluating practice and the decisions and actions in providing good care, and 

p) facilitating the quality use of therapeutic products based on the best available evidence and the patient or client’s needs. 

Prudent practitioners might ask themselves the following questions to address these provisions of the code.

  1. If the treatment you provide was not something you learned at University or at a University Course, is there evidence that this modality is effective – in terms of outcomes and longevity ?
  2. Do you have relevant ongoing complaint CPD in this area ?
  3. Are there proper (not just case studies) published papers in relation to the modality of treatment ?
  4. Do all of the materials you use have TGA approvals that can be evidenced?
  5. Are you sure you have indemnity insurance for these procedures ?
  6. Do you objectively consider that the benefit of the treatment outweighs the cost and have you discussed this with you patients as a matter of routine ?
  7. Do most dentists agree that this treatment modality is safe and effective ?
  8. Would this treatment fall within a recognised specialty, and if so, have you discussed this treatment with a relevant specialist ?
  9. Do you have a referral pathway for this treatment ?

If the answer to any of these questions is not a definite yes, then you may be non-compliant with the code and you should seek peer assistance.