Mrs Wilson went to see her dentist, Mr Harris, as she had a chip at the bottom of
one of her front teeth and she wanted it filled.
Mr Harris said that he could provide a white filling on a private basis at a cost
of £80 and asked whether Mrs Wilson would like it done immediately. Mrs Wilson agreed
and so Mr Harris carried out the treatment.
When Mrs Wilson went to reception to pay, she was charged £120. When she questioned
the amount, she was told that was the price that had been written in her notes.
Mrs Wilson thought she may have misheard Mr Harris and so she paid the £120.
Two days later, whilst eating her lunch, the filling fell out. She went back to
see Mr Harris and asked for the filling to be redone. He said he could redo the
filling but it would cost her another £120. He said that he warned her when he did
the filling that it may not last for very long. Mrs Wilson questioned why she had
been asked to pay £120 for the first filling rather than £80 and why she should
pay again after only two days. Mr Harris said it was clear from her notes that he
had told her the filling would cost £120. Mrs Wilson then left the practice.
She decided to write a letter of complaint to the GDC. In her letter she said that
Mr Harris had misinformed her about the cost of her treatment and that at no point
during the initial appointment did Mr Harris tell her that the filling was unlikely
to stay in place for long, nor did he offer any advice on how to prevent the filling
from falling out.
The fitness to practise caseworker considered that Mr Harris may have breached a
number of the standards and guidance in Standards for the Dental Team including
(but not limited to):
- 3.1 You must obtain valid consent before starting treatment, explaining all the
relevant options and the possible costs.
- 3.1.3 You should find out what your patients want to know as well as what you think
they need to know. Things that patients might want to know include:
- options for treatment, the risks and the potential benefits;
- why you think a particular treatment is necessary and appropriate for them;
- the consequences, risks and benefits of the treatment you propose;
- the likely prognosis;
- your recommended option;
- the cost of the proposed treatment;
- what might happen if the proposed treatment is carried out; and
- whether the treatment is guaranteed, how long it is guaranteed for and any exclusions
The case was referred to the Investigating Committee. The committee thought there
had been a failure in communication. It also thought Mr Harris may not have obtained
Mrs Wilson’s consent as the costs were not clearly explained to her, nor was she
advised of the risks associated with the filling. The committee decided to issue
Mr Harris with a letter of advice reminding him of the importance of providing patients
with clear information on costs and risks associated with treatment.