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 Scenario

Complaints handling Complaints handling

You are a dentist and you have received a letter from a regular patient of yours, Mrs Thomas. You recently performed an extraction for Mrs Thomas due to progressive periodontitis.

Mrs Thomas is complaining that you did not appropriately manage her periodontal condition over the years of her treatment with you, and that the extraction may have been avoided if you had given her adequate advice in the past.

You believe you have always given appropriate advice and treatment to Mrs Thomas, and that she has not maintained healthy gums, resulting in the loss of the tooth.

You are due to take annual leave this evening and will not return to work for three weeks. Mrs Thomas has asked for a response within the next three weeks. Your Practice’s complaints handling procedure recommends a full response to a complaint within ten working days of receipt. What should you do?

What should you do?

​No – this is not the right answer.

​Standard 5.3.7 in Standards for the Dental Team states you should try to deal with all the points raised within a patient’s complaint, and where possible, offer a solution for each one.

Even though responding to the complaint today will mean you respond within the deadline, it is unlikely that you will be able to respond in full.

Standard 5.3.5 in Standards for the Dental Team states if you need more time to investigate a complaint, you should tell the patient when you will respond.

See recommended course of action

That’s the right answer.

Standard 5.3.5 in Standards for the Dental Team states if you need more time to investigate a complaint, you should tell the patient when you will respond.

It is in your patient’s best interests to respond in brief stating the reasons why you are unable to respond within the usual timescale to the complaint, proposing a new timescale for a full response.

This will ensure your patient knows you intend to respond in full at a later date. This will also give you the time to analyse the complaint and set out a full response.

No – this is not the right answer.

​Standard 5.3.4 in Standards for the Dental Team states you must respond to complaints within the time limits set out in your complaints procedure.

If you don’t respond within the time limits set out in your complaints handling procedure, patients will probably become more annoyed and could end up complaining to the GDC.

The caseworkers in our Fitness to Practise team would then consider whether you should be referred to the Investigating Committee for your failure to effectively handle your patient’s complaint.

See recommended course of action