Patient Safety in Dentistry Series

Florida Focus, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Florida Academy of General Dentistry, invited Senior Patient Safety Risk Manager Sue Boisvert, BSN, MHSA, DFASHRM, to write a three-part series focusing on patient safety in dentistry. The articles, republished here, provide important strategies for enhancing communication and documentation skills and responding to adverse events.

Part 1: Communication

Effective communication improves teamwork and creates a safer environment for patients. It can also enhance patient engagement and satisfaction and reduce the risk of professional liability claims, even if an adverse event occurs.

Part 2: Documentation

The primary purpose of documentation is to create an orderly chronological record of the clinical decision-making process, treatment provided, and patient responses. Records that are incomplete or inaccurate may lead to inappropriate treatment and patient harm.

Part 3: Managing Adverse Events in the Practice Setting

When an adverse event occurs in a dental practice, providers and staff must be prepared to respond appropriately. A well-managed response includes caring for the patient, investigating the event, taking necessary action, and reporting the event appropriately as required.

The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider considering the circumstances of the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.