Failure to obtain full and informed consent before carrying out dental procedures


Dental claims and dental negligence law is a very specialist area. At DNC experienced dental negligence lawyers understand the anxieties, concerns and frustration that may be caused by negligent dental care and treatment.

Our specialist dental negligence solicitors are sympathetic and knowledgeable about the situation you may find yourself in. We are true professionals with both legal and dental knowledge and expertise to help you through this difficult time. We can help you every step of the way to ensure that you receive the compensation due to you.

What is consent?

For many dental procedures, simply sitting in the dental chair and opening our mouth suggests that we have consented to the check up or treatment. This is called implied consent – nothing is said but our actions indicate that we are willing to undergo the dental care and/or treatment.

Sometimes, we may be asked to specifically state that we are willing to have a particular dental treatment (for example, a tooth extraction or root canal treatment). This is called express consent – we specifically express our agreement to undergo a particular treatment.

When dental procedures are more complex, lengthy and/or costly (for example, multiple crowns, bridges, implants, extensive treatments for periodontal (gum) disease, surgical procedures and/or orthodontic treatment), we may be asked to sign a formal consent form – this is also express consent, but this time written so that there can be no doubt that we have agreed to the treatment (and to pay the associated costs, usually within a specified timescale).

Is consent full, informed and valid?

Regardless as to whether our consent is implied, expressed verbally or in writing, it is important that we completely understand what dental care or treatment is to be carried out and why we need that care or treatment. We must also understand any risks associated with the dental care and/or treatment.

However, in order to give our full and informed consent, we need to know if there are any treatment options and we need to know the benefits and risks of each option – both individually and when compared with each other.

It may also be important for us to know that the dentist or dental professional is suitably qualified and/or experienced to carry out the propose treatment offer. This may be particularly relevant with more complex treatment plans that carry more risks.

Obviously, as treatments get more complex, we need to be given more information (more treatment options, more comparative risks and benefit analysis and more cost information and cost options).

Dental negligence claims arising from consent issues

A claim for dental negligence as a result of consent issues may arise from the most basic examination or from complex treatment plans and procedures.

We may not be told everything about a particular type of treatment. However, if we would have opted to have that treatment in any event (for example, an extraction to relieve pain), then there will be no claim based on the failure to obtain our full and informed consent.

However, if we had received additional information that may have caused us to reconsider and/or change our mind about having the dental treatment on a specific day (even if we may have agreed to have the dental procedure on another date), then our consent cannot be full or informed. Therefore it cannot be valid and you may well have a claim.

As you may now appreciate, consent issues are a complex area of dental negligence law and claims involving consent issues require very careful consideration. Each claim will depend on its own facts.

Categories: Type of Claim