As a barrister, much of my work is directed to oral and written advocacy. Barristers get to understand how to persuade decision makers- on paper or on their feet.
In dentistry with AHPRA, the OHO and the Dental Council principally, it is critically important to understand the regulatory process and the underlying legislation.
Being a dentist does not equip you – nor probably any dentist who is not an advocate – for the work necessary to respond to a complaint.
It needs an independent mind, with a constant eye on the end game.
It also requires experience in appeals and reviews of decisions of AHPRA, the Dental Council and the OHO.
Although dental legal advisors have great experience in the the initial levels of regulation, such as complaints and notifications, they are likely unable to advocate on behalf of practitioners.
Some insurers will send the regulator complaint to solicitors early on, but unfortunately, unless they have great experience in the matter their clinical knowledge and just plain practical understanding limits the response.
Also, it is my experience that some of the indemnifiers and their solicitors do not question the dentist in much detail, they ask questions and do not question the likely outcome and certainly do not act in any proactive way. Part of that may be due to the fact that indemnifying a dentist is about reducing the insurer’s expenses – it’s a business after all, so they need to strike a balance between dentist satisfaction and cost.
And sometimes that balance is right, and sometimes ….. it is not.
If your indemnifier does not seem to understand what is at stake, and leaves you to your own devices, you might need help. Conditions on one’s practice can be minimised or avoided with proper skills, knowledge and advocacy in many cases.
If you receive complaint, ask your indemnifier for help. If the help is not there – then it might be here.
Call me on 07 3007 1777, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook message me at @dentalegal