Principle One

Put patient's interests first

 

Principle Two

Communicate effectively with patients

 

Principle Three

Obtain valid consent

 

Principle Four

Maintain and protect patients' information

 

Principle Five

Have a clear and effective complaints procedure

 

Principle Six

Work with colleagues in a way that is in patients' best interests

 

Principle Seven

Maintain, develop and work within your professional knowledge and skills

 

Principle Eight

Raise concerns if patients are at risk

 

Principle Nine

Make sure your personal behaviour maintains patients' confidence in you and the dental profession

 

Learning Material Case Study

Being Trustworthy

The patient who complained to us was elderly and living in a residential care home.

He need new full dentures. He had seen the regular dentist at the care home, Mr Brown, who took impressions and charger the patient £800 up front. He arranged to fit the dentures on 1 November but, on the day, phoned to cancel the appointment on the day, citing personal reasons. He rescheduled for 10 November.

Mr Brown did not arrive for the appointment on 10 November. The patient tried to contact Mr Brown on the two phone numbers that he had been given but neither number was in use.

On 30 November, the patient received a letter from The Insolvency Service stating that Mr Brown was the subject of a Bankruptcy Order and that the patient was a creditor. The patient made a complaint to the GDC, in which he complained that the dentist had taken payment for work he had not intended to carry out, and that he had not communicated with the patient.

The Fitness to Practise Caseworker considered the Mr Brown may have breached aspects of Standards for the Dental Team including:

  • 1.3 You must be honest and act with integrity
  • 1.3.1 You must justify the trust that patients, the public and your colleagues place in you by always acting honestly and fairly in your dealings with them. This applies to any business or education activities in which you are involved as well as to your professional dealings.
  • 1.7.1 You must always put your patients’ interests before any financial, personal or other gain.

The case was referred to the Investigating Committee. The caseworker wrote to the dentist about the case on several occasions and received no response.

The Investigating Committee referred the case on to the Professional Conduct Committee, and expressed disappointment that the dentist had not engaged with the GDC about the matter.

The Professional Conduct Committee determined that Mr Brown's actions amounted to misconduct. They stated that he had effectively exploited a vulnerable patient, and caused considerable financial loss to that patient. During the course of the case, Mr Brown had said that he felt the case against him was "spurious". The Committee felt that this showed a lack of insight.

The Committee determined that Mr Brown's fitness to practise was impaired, and to erase him from the register.

Dishonesty and putting your own interests before those of your patients can lead to you being struck off.

Mr Brown should not have taken payment for work he did not intend to complete. If Mr Brown knew that he would not be able to provide the dentures to the patient, he should not have taken the money for them.

He could have:

  • referred the patient to a colleague
  • advised the patient how to take his treatment plan elsewhere to have the work completed
  • advised the patient to speak to the care home staff about arranging treatment with someone else

If Mr Brown had realised after taking the payment that he couldn't complete the work, he should have refunded the money to the patient and explained how the patient could complete the treatment elsewhere.

Mr Brown's communication with the patient was also insufficient, and the Committees were additionally concerned that the case involved a vulnerable patient.