Most dentists forget that dentistry isn’t simply about being excellent at clinical care, it is also about taking care of the business and the legal aspects that can impact on their practice. Even if you, as the dentist aren’t very savvy where business and law is concerned, it most certainly does not mean that you cannot successfully protect your practice with a few choice tips and tricks.
Not sure how to insulate your business against a lawsuit? Here are some things you must always keep in mind when dealing with patients and the business of dentistry.
The Importance of Consent
This is something that most people are either not very clear about or simply don’t apply enough attention. As a dentist you need to be very clear about what consent actually is. It isn’t simply letting the patient know that they need a particular treatment and how much it would cost, it means that you have to follow all the steps that come before the suggestion of that treatment, all the things that might go wrong with the procedure, what the actual process will be, how long it could take to heal, what amount of money they would have to spend and what aftercare would be needed.
If the patient does not understand all of this, then you are not really receiving their consent. Once they are absolutely clear about everything to do with the procedure, only then should you go ahead with the task. Otherwise, if anything goes wrong, you are at risk of litigation. Consent is not simply getting a long form signed, that the patient doesn’t even fully understand, it is about communicating everything to them so that they can make an intelligent decision that helps improve their quality of life.
Dispute Resolution Process
This is something that most dentists either avoid entirely or try to evade as much as possible. There is nothing worse than a disgruntled patient who is not catered to in their time of need. Hence the reason why, when a patient is calling to talk to you, it is important to take the time to listen. Don’t ignore them or try to delegate the task of talking to them to someone else in the practice. Instead, address their concerns and handle them as positively as possible.
This is the reason why postoperative phone calls should be made a regular part of the practice processes. It would reduce any chance of an angry patient feeling forced into filing a complaint against you or notifying a regulator of the state. The best way to avoid a complaint is to listen to the patient and try to appease them. Some dentists are best to offer to refund a patient’s money if the dentist knows some of it is their fault. This will potentially resolve the dispute in most cases. If on the other hand, an associate dentist has had a complaint against them, then you as the practice owner will need to decide how much the associate will pay and how much you the owner will pay. This is the kind of situation where it would be best to have policies set in advance about what needs to be done if a patient comes back for a refund.
Common Pitfalls to Avoid when Buying or Selling a Dental Practice
These are some of the common things that dentists, who are either vendors or buyers, don’t take into consideration too seriously when buying a dental practice. Here are the top 5 common pitfalls that can be avoided.
The first thing that has to be taken into view is the lease. A registered lease, one that is fresh is the best. If not, then it is best to consult with a lawyer or commercial solicitor who have dealt with such cases. Ask to see references and cases they have solved so you know that they are well versed in registration of leases, licensures, exchange of title, bank accounts and more.
It is important to ask yourself. Is the practice legit or is it simply a paper-based practice? This can only be analysed by someone who knows what they are looking for. A novice, who has never bought a practice before, will not know what to look for. A knowledgeable veteran would look at occasions of service, run through the database, check out critical item numbers etc. to find out about the legitimacy of the practice.
You are not duty bound to hire the same employees that were previously working with the practice you purchase. It is completely your choice about whether or not you want to keep them. If you think they are going to be of value to you, then you can restart their period of service, so that you can check them out for 6 to 12 months before keeping them on full time. Get in touch with a good lawyer and ask them about employment laws, transition of the employees of the practice so you know you are on solid legal footing.
You most definitely do not want to end up with a dental practice that has previous liabilities left over from the previous owner. They may not be your fault, but the patients coming to you would think they are your responsibility and they will look bad on your profile. Making you unreliable and non-trustworthy. So long as you keep all these points in mind there is no reason why you would have to deal with the ugly face of law. Remember its always best to get the appropriate legal advice.
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