Dental Staffing

Is Your Dental Team on Board to Prevent a Malpractice Claim?

Two women, or one woman, is looking at the camera while wearing dental uniforms.

According to J. P. Graskemper, DDS, JD, there are two main reasons patients sue dental professionals:

(1) The patient claims they have been harmed either through treatment or non-treatment.
(2) The patient wants money.

CNA HealthPro (a malpractice insurance company) estimates up to 80% of malpractice claims are not because of substandard dentistry but are related to money issues. The money issues may be over money the patient paid to the practice or money still owing the practice.

According to National Practitioner Data Bank, there were 19,755 actions taken against Dentists and 3,131 actions taken against Dental Hygienists/Assistants in the 10 years between 2006-2016. That averages 1,976 per year against Dentists and 313 against Hygienists/Assistants.

For Doctors:

  1. Failure to recognize problem patients
  2. Pursuing collection of fees where care may be an issue
  3. Failure to advise/train staff for the need for consistent, accurate and complete documentation
  4. Failure to maintain a pleasant chairside manner
  5. Failure to assign an employee to recognize risk management issues and resolve them
  6. Failure to avoid adverse comments about other practitioners
  7. Failure to appropriately follow-up on important issues
  8. Failure to properly discharge patients when necessary
  9. Failure to refer when necessary

For Dental Hygienists:

  1. Failure to update medical histories
  2. Failure to detect oral pathology
  3. Failure to detect periodontal disease
  4. Injury to the patient

Here are some additional reasons Dental Professionals have been sued:

  1. HIPAA violations
  2. Failure to practice standards of care
  3. Breaching infection control standards
  4. Failure to determine if a patient needs premedication
  5. Failure to record complete and thorough documentation
  6. Failure to identify a medically compromised patient and pursue a medical release
  7. Upcoding or incorrectly coding procedures

When reviewing these statistics, it’s easy to see how in a busy, stressful day important issues can be missed. We can only hope there is a Team atmosphere in your Dental Practice where everyone is working together to not only care for patients but avoid potential problems. If your Staff or any individual on your Staff is not working as an ally, it really can’t be said they’re part of the Team. In this case, I believe it’s time to invite them to work somewhere else.

Become a Member of and receive a copy of our webinar on Risk Management and Documentation at no charge.  It’s a great training tool for the entire Team!

Information taken from articles written by Diane Glasscoe Watterson, RDH, BS, MBA and Linda J. Hay, J.D.



Educate Yourself!

Is your Dental Practice prepared for a board complaint or malpractice claim? Many Dental Professionals feel paralyzed when thinking about a documentation system because it seems complicated and overwhelming. At, our webinar will give you a clear overview and next steps for creating a risk management process. So you can take control and be prepared, instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.

[Click Here for Access to Our Webinar Video]



“Every experience in your life is being orchestrated to teach you
something you need to know to move forward.”
- Brian Tracy