This is an exceptionally difficult and rapidly evolving situation and we wish to offer reassurance that MDDUS stands ready to assist, advise and support our members.
Dentists should ensure they remain aware of the latest guidance from the relevant government and health departments and follow those guidelines. You should be knowledgeable of General Dental Council (GDC) guidance, ensuring that this continues to be followed.
The GDC are clarifying and updating their guidance online, as matters proceed, which can be accessed at this link: https://www.gdc-uk.org/information-standards-guidance/covid-19.
At all times you should be in a position to justify your actions with reference to the available guidance, if later called upon to do so.
For further guidance, please watch both our webinars on dentolegal essentials where advice is provided on areas such as indemnity, triaging, remote prescribing, risk assessment and record keeping.
Link: COVID-19: dentolegal essentials
Link: COVID-19: dentolegal essentials 2
*For members practising in England and Scotland, please read the latest MDDUS guidance here.
1. My Principal wants me to return to work, what information should be available to me prior to providing dental care to patients?
It is important that the entire dental workforce is aware of the various guidance documents that are available. These include publications from the various Chief Dental Officers, SDCEP, FGDP and BDA. In addition, specific advice about PPE is available from, for example, Healthcare Protection Scotland and Public Health England.
It is important that the provision of dental care is done so in a safe, effective, caring, response and well-led way. Consideration must be given to practice preparation and patient considerations, PPE for dental practice personnel, management of the clinical room, dental procedures to be carried out as well as post-operative cleaning, disinfection and waste management.
Risk Assessments, SOPs, PPE and social distancing must be included in how dental care will be delivered when any practice re-opens.
2. What treatments can I provide if I am happy to return to practice to see patients?MDDUS is not the arbiter of clinical opinion, however as an individual professional and GDC Registrant you have a professional responsibility to act appropriately and to ensure the safety of your patients. Everyone should follow appropriate guidance and signpost your Practice Principal to the guidance. Patients should be managed appropriately depending on their registration status with the practice, i.e. NHS or private. NHS patients must be managed in respect of guidance from the Chief Dental Officer of your jurisdiction. Non-NHS patients may have their dental problems managed within the practice, dependent upon the availability of appropriate PPE in line with authoritative guidance. MDDUS members are reminded that they are always individually responsible for their own actions. MDDUS indemnity is not conditional upon a member following one particular set of guidance rather than another. Close
3. What should dentists consider when undertaking remote or online consultations rather than seeing patients face to face?
Remote consulting can be used safely, provided clinicians are aware of and manage the associated risks.
Dentists should be familiar with the principles of the GDC Guidance High level principles for good practice in remote consultations and prescribing, which sets out the high level principles of good practice expected of everyone when consulting and or prescribing remotely.
For more detail please see our published guidance on this topic: 'Remote consulting in the coronavirus outbreak'.
4. Dentists have reported concerns about increased dento-legal risk such as claims, complaints or GDC referrals. Will MDDUS support and defend dentists in that situation?
You can approach us for advice and guidance as usual at this challenging time.
The GDC has stated:
“Expert advice on the clinical aspects of COVID-19 will continue to come from the health authorities of the four nations and we will continue to signpost to this guidance as and when it is updated. But that guidance will inevitably not cover every potential scenario, and therefore, dental professionals will need to continue exercising their professional judgement and weigh the risks in any given situation. They will also need to continue to assess whether they are trained, competent and indemnified to carry out the activity in question.Close
“However, in the recent joint statement from the healthcare regulators we said that we understand that in highly challenging circumstances, professionals may need to depart from established procedures to care for patients and that should concerns be raised, relevant environmental and human factors would be taken into account.”
As the situation develops dentists should use the relevant guidance, at that time, to inform their decision-making, underscoring the importance of remaining up-to-date with the latest guidance.
Dentists are expected to behave responsibly and reasonably whilst exercising professional judgement in these unique and challenging times, balancing all the facts and considering the most up to date guidance to reach the decision you consider to be most appropriate at the time. It is good practice to document such decisions carefully, including the reasons for such decisions. This is all the more important in these unusual circumstances and where guidance may not be available that directly applies to the decision you are facing. If you are in doubt about any dento-legal or ethical aspects, please contact MDDUS for advice.
Should a complaint, claim or GDC referral arise from your actions, members can always turn to MDDUS for advice and support.
5. What should I do to keep up to date with guidance about the pandemic?Given the situation is rapidly evolving in light of new information, it is vital that you put processes in place to ensure you are kept up to date with the latest guidance.
You will need to check the relevant websites regularly so that you can ensure that you are up to date with the latest guidance. Viewing documents on the relevant websites rather than relying on a downloaded copy is essential to ensure that you are viewing the latest version in a rapidly changing situation.
Some practices find it helpful to have a lead person who is responsible for checking the relevant guidance regularly and ensuring the team is kept up to date.
It can also be helpful to keep a log of when the guidance was checked in order to demonstrate how and when you have kept up to date.