“Malpractice” – improper, illegal, or negligent professional activity or treatment, especially by a medical practitioner, lawyer, or public official.

When we think of the word “malpractice,” we usually think about hospitals and surgeons, but those who are in the dental industry are just as capable of making poor decisions when it comes to the care and treatment of their patients. Whether it is an oversight that their training should have prevented them from making, or simply a choice made from a place of unprofessionalism, things can wrong, and when they do, we are here to help.

However, the world would be a better (and unrealistic) place if accidents never happened, but we can do our best to prevent them. And when it comes to malpractice in the dental industry, you can help with the prevention process. How you may ask? By understanding the importance of sharing your medical history with your dental provider.

Why is this important?

When you see a dentist for your first visit, they should absolutely ask you for your medical history, which will typically be included in your patient registration. You will be asked about your lifestyle, such as smoking and drinking habits, if you participate in high-risk sports, and records of your family medical history (to see if your genetics will play a part in how they move forward with certain treatment plans). The collected information will allow them to assess any immediate dental-care needs and what is the best approach for future treatments.

What kind of information is important to share?

You may think this only pertains to previous dental history, but your overall medical health is extremely important information for them to have. Be specific, such as any major illness you may have had or major surgeries. There are many chronic diseases that play a role in your oral health. For example, diabetes can increase the risk for gum disease (and vice versa).

Some of the things that should be included in when you share your medical history are:

  • Any allergies (including latex)
  • History of mitral valve prolapse/heart murmur
  • Asthma
  • If you are pregnant
  • Congenital heart defect
  • If you currently or have ever smoked
  • If you have a pacemaker
  • History of rheumatic fever
  • Recent heart surgery
  • Artificial heart valve
  • Seizures/epilepsy
  • Bacterial endocarditis
  • Joint, hip, or knee replacement
  • Any current medical conditions that you are being treated for

Tell your dentist of any medications that you are currently taking, why?

This is a big one, especially if an emergency should arise. Letting them know of any medications you may be taking will affect which type of anesthesia is given. Your dentist may prescribe medications that don’t interact well with ones you are currently taking, which is easily avoided when you are upfront and honest with them. Bring a list of all your medications, so that your dentist can keep an accurate record.

All medical records are private

The release of any medical information is prohibited without the consent of the patient, so you won’t have to worry about your records, they are confidential. However, you may be asked to sign a release form so that your dental office can provide information to your insurance company for health insurance benefits, which will also be kept in strict confidentiality.

Providing this information to your dental provider can prevent medical emergencies, which can even be fatal. But this is not only a step you take to keep your health safe during treatment, when you provide this information it protects you in the event that things go wrong. Having proper and detailed records will allow you to show that you disclosed all of your medical information, and if a malpractice case should be the next step, this will be extremely beneficial in the eyes of the law.

If you feel like you have had an experience where the care and treatment from a dentist fall into the category of malpractice, our office is here to help. Contact us today, we will be happy to answer any questions you may have and get you back on the road to recovery and justice.