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Dental complaints ‘on the rise in UK’

Complaints and compensation claims from unhappy patients who have undergone a range of dental procedures are on the increase in the UK.

According to new findings from the Dental Defence Union (DDU) – the specialist division of the Medical Defence Union – there was a 32 per cent increase in grievance cases in 2012.

On top of this, officials noted a 12.5 per cent rise in dental advisory files opened last year, which could serve as a reminder to all practitioners to ensure their patients are fully kept in-the-know about any procedure they are undergoing.

Reported by Dentistry.co.uk, the study revealed that one patient who was a heavy smoker had attempted to file a complaint about their dentist when their dental implants had failed. However, with help from the DDU, the professional was successfully defended.

In addition, a dentist whose patient claimed she had not been properly warned about the possibility of nerve damage when her wisdom tooth was removed was assisted in the case when it emerged she had actually been informed of the risks beforehand.

The MDU’s Annual Report for 2012 also showed the increase in dental advisory cases launched is mostly driven by a rise in complaints. For this reason, practitioners should ensure patients are kept informed of the potential risks of certain procedures through dental marketing.

Commenting on the study’s findings, Rupert Hoppenbrouwers – head of the DDU – said there are no indications that the ongoing rise in complaints will ease in the near future.

He added: “It is difficult to identify what lies behind the increase in complaints as there is no evidence that clinical standards are slipping. But we live in a consumer society which demands high levels of customer service and accountability when things go wrong.

“We hope these legal reforms will achieve the aim of reducing claimants’ costs while still providing patients with access to justice if they believe they have been negligently harmed.”

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