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Dentists see increase in compensation claims

Posted by Rachel Lucas

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) has claimed that dentists are suffering as a result of the UK’s “compensation culture”.

According to the organisation, the number of cases being brought against dental professionals has increased sharply over the course of a year.

Its annual report for 2012 found that they had risen by 53 per cent year-on-year compared with the number of incidents in 2011.

The MDDUS has said that the fact its membership had grown by 3.3 per cent over that period can be attributed to a small part of the jump.

However, it added that the real trend seems to be focused more around the fact that there are simply more people looking to claim in order to receive compensation over the last few years.

This does not necessarily end up being the case though, with 70 per cent of dental claims being settled without any payments actually being made in 2012.

Similarly, 86.8 per cent of cases involving general dental practitioners in 2011 were resolved without sanctions being imposed on the MDDUS members.

MDDUS head of dental division Aubrey Craig said: “This rise in claims may be related to the harsh economic climate of recent years, but is being manifested in increasing claim rates and consequent legal costs.”

He added that there was no evidence to suggest that dentists had suffered from a drop in standards, while they were also more “risk-aware” – resulting in them seeking advice as early as possible, rather than letting problems escalate.

Figures released recently by the Dental Defence Union (DDU) highlighted the important role dental marketing could play in reducing the number of complaints.

The DDU found that the majority of cases are opened after the patient’s treatment does not live up to their overall expectations.

This suggests that marketing items like dental treatment leaflets could be used to manage patients’ perceptions so that they are not disappointed with the end product of their procedure.

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