PATIENT RIGHTS IN REGARD TO DENTAL CARE
Dental Assistants work hard to help Dentists and Dental Hygienists provide quality care to patients. They try to provide patients with the knowledge of proper dental care as well as information about the procedures they are about to undergo. Patients have rights in regards to their dental care that Dental Assistants need to be aware of and respectful of.
Dental patients have the right to make an informed decision about their dental care. It is the responsibility of the Dental Assistant to make sure they know the facts about the procedures, the alternative options, and any risks involved in the procedures. Dental patients have the right to receive care from qualified staff members. Most dental offices will provide the licensing and credentials of staff members upon patient request.
The right to receive quality care is important to patients. Dental Assistants can do their part by taking the time to properly clean all dental tools and equipment. Standard sterilization procedures need to be followed accurately. Patients have the right to ask questions and receive informed decisions about the care they receive. Dental Assistants have the responsibility of keeping the lines of communication open. They need to be approachable by patients.
A patient has the right to refuse treatment or discontinue treatment at any time. The Dental Assistant needs to be respectful of this choice. However, the Dental Assistant has the responsibility to inform the patient of the health risks involved with doing so. Those patients wanting to continue care have the right to be seen at scheduled appointments and for a detailed treatment plan to be carefully outlined, and then followed.
Emergency situations do occur. Patients have the right to be seen as soon as possible. In the mean time, the Dental Assistant needs to do everything possible to reduce the pain and make the patient comfortable. Dental care can be expensive. Patients have the right to receive an itemized cost of treatment prior to accepting any dental services.
All patients want to be treated with dignity and respect. The patient who comes in with poor oral care habits doesn’t want the Dental Assistant to ask them rude questions about the last time they brushed their teeth. However, it is important for the Dental Assistant to express concern about the patient’s oral health habits, and provide education to help the patient develop better oral care practices.
Dental patients have the right to confidentiality. Dental Assistants need to keep information about procedures and those coming in for them to themselves. No one wants everyone in town to know they had two cavities or that they got their teeth whitened. Confidentially is very important to individuals in all areas, and their dental care is no different. A patient has the right to request copies of all information in their file at any time for their own use.
All patients have the right to express their concern over the dental care they received. They have the right to file a complaint against the Dental Assistant or other staff with the State Dental Board. Each state has their own policies and procedures for investigating complaints. The standard procedure includes obtaining the complaint in writing, sending a copy of the complaint to the dental facility, interviewing witnesses to the event, and making an informed decision on how to handle the complaint.
Dental Assistants need to be fully aware to patient rights. It is easy to get caught up in the procedures and duties of the dental profession. However, the satisfaction of the patient is the key to providing quality service and maintaining ongoing relationships with patients. Dental Assistants can do their part by providing patients with an approachable individual that they can discuss their needs, ideas, thoughts, and concerns over their dental care with. In that regard, a Dental Assistant can serve as a lesson between the patient and the other dental staff.