It should be noted that carrying out treatment without informed consent can create the conditions for liability, since it is below the standard of treatment. However, declarations of consent are not waivers. They do not exempt dentists from their responsibilities and do not protect dentists from offering treatments according to standards of care. “Informed consent is not a substitute for poor quality care. A patient cannot accept poor quality care,” Curley said in the webinar. Some dentists who called the consultation line asked if they should request a separate declaration of consent in the context of COVID-19. However, TDIC does not recommend that practitioners use a COVID-19-specific form. (For more information, see our article on important factors to consider before reopening your office.) “Everyone knows there is COVID-19. It`s something no one can say, “I`ve never heard of it,” Curley said. “So they agree to go to a dental office because they know that anything they do in public carries a risk of contracting COVID-19.” Dentists Insurance Company`s Risk Management Advice Line continues to receive calls from practitioners about how to manage COVID-19 issues. These requests range from obtaining sufficient PSA to addressing staff who are afraid to return to work. Many calls concern informed consent and communication of the risks of contagion to the virus in a dental environment.
Informed consent is a fundamental part of risk management in dentistry. It`s more than a form. This is a dialogue between a dentist and a patient about the type of treatment recommended; the risks, complications and benefits of treatment; and alternatives to recommended treatment, including no treatment at all. A signed declaration of consent is considered the first line of defence when a right to professional liability is invoked. If, for any reason, a patient refuses to sign a declaration of consent, it is recommended to postpone the procedure. Staff should inquire about why the patient refuses to sign the form. If the patient still refuses after an additional statement, this is a sign of non-compliance and discharge may be acceptable according to formal patient dismissal protocols. . . .