Delay or failure to refer for specialist review and treatment


Dental claims and dental negligence law is a very specialist area. Our specialist dental negligence lawyers have helped many people make successful claims and receive compensation for their dental injuries as well as for any corrective treatment that may be required.

Our experienced dental negligence lawyers understand the anxieties and concerns caused by unexpected or unwanted outcomes from dental care or treatment. We also understand the additional frustrations and emotional impact if they have been caused by dental negligence. We are true professionals with both legal and dental knowledge and expertise to help you through this difficult time.

Dentist or specialist?

A dentist is also known as a GDP, a General Dental Practitioner (the same as GP stands for General Practitioner). Therefore, just like a GP, a dentist is a generalist – they know and do lots of things. However, a dentist is also trained to know the limits of their skill and knowledge and to recognise when it is appropriate or in a patient’s best interests to refer for specialist review and/or treatment.

Some dentists take further qualifications to become a registered and recognised specialist in one particular field of dentistry (for example, a specialist endodontist/periodontist/ orthodontist etc).

Alternatively, other dentists may undertake additional training to increase their knowledge and expertise in certain dental procedures – but this does not make them a specialist. However, this can cause confusion as these dentists may become very skilled, proficient and experienced in their chosen area of interest and additional training.

When to refer to a specialist?

All dentists should act in their patient’s best interests. Within this, all dentists are trained to recognise their own limitations and to refer a patient to a specialist or to a more learned and/or experienced dentist for review and/or treatment when appropriate.

Sometimes, a dentist will request a specialist’s opinion, perhaps on a diagnosis or a treatment plan before then carrying out the appropriate treatment procedures. In this situation, the dentist is using the specialist to confirm their own thoughts or to give a second opinion as to how best to approach a particular dental issue.

Dental negligence claims arising from a delay or failure to refer for specialist review
Dental negligence may occur when a dentist either fails to adequately assess a situation, fails to recognise its complexities or attempts a dental procedure and encounters complications, which they do not have the experience or expertise to deal with. In this last scenario, there may be further dental negligence in delaying or failing to seek specialist or more experienced assistance to deal with the complication.

The most common problems resulting from the delay or failure to refer to a specialist or more experienced dentist involve the following:

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