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What Are The Legal Obligations Of A Dentist?

Dentists, like every other professional, have a set of rules guiding their practice. Seeing as the dental profession is one that wields significant power over the health and welfare of the patients, certain legal and ethical requirements are to be met by dentists to ensure that they are practicing according to the stipulations of the law.


For dentists who are not aware of these legal obligations, dentist attorneys at NC Planning have taken time to draft out the legal obligations required for them to follow.


The Legal Obligations Of A Dentist


Proper Licensure


As with any other professional practice, a dentist is required to fulfill all the legal requirements stipulated for them to practice. To obtain proper licensure to practice, the dentist will be required to submit some documents which prove that they have indeed acquired the skills necessary for them to practice as a dentist. In addition to this, the dental assistant will be required to be registered and also certified in radiation and health safety.


Reasonable Judgment and Skill


The dentist will also be required to display the ability to use the knowledge that has been gathered in a recognized institution to carry out the treatment and care needs of patients under their care. The combination of the dentist’s knowledge and ability to apply such knowledge qualifies them as skilled.

The dentist will also be required to display a level of care that meets the standards that have been set while also being able to make judgments that are in the patient’s best interest.


Offer Patient Autonomy


The dentist is required to understand that the patient has the final say regarding the best procedure that they deem fit for their treatment needs. This means that the dentist cannot make decisions on behalf of the patient and can also not take decisions that override the wishes of the patient.


Don’t Abandon Patients


Dentists are bound by a contract to treat their patients and nurse them back to health. However, a dentist who abandons a patient thus leading to the worsening of the dental condition suffered by the patient may be held liable for the patient’s condition.


Refer Patients to Specialists When Required


In the event that a diagnosis has been established, one that is outside of the field or scope of the dentist’s practice, a specialist should be recommended to further treat the patient.


Provide Patients with the Best Level of Care, Use Standard Techniques, Drugs, and Medical Materials


Dentists are required by law to deliver the standard level of care and attention to patients. Added to this, they are also required by law and according to the ethics of the profession to employ the use of standard medical practices, techniques, and established drugs in the treatment of dental conditions that are presented.


Deliver reasonable results and improvements in a reasonable time


As with contracts, the patient expects to see reasonable results in a reasonable time. The dentist is also expected to strive to deliver results for the services that are getting paid for.


Other responsibilities include offering the patient adequate information and instructions and charging a reasonable fee – one that is commensurate with the services offered.