It is important to make sure the patient fully understands what treatments need to be undertaken so they know exactly what they are consenting to and are aware of the risks or side affects involved.
Understandably, patients aren’t going to have a great knowledge, if any, on dentistry. They may have heard about certain treatments, such as Root Canal, but don’t know how or why it is done.
When a patient is in need of a filling the dentist may say an Amalgam filling is required on the mesial, distal and occusal surfaces of the tooth. The patient isn’t going to understand the terms used to describe each surface of the tooth, so it is my responsibility to ensure they understand that a metal filling material is going to be placed on the biting surface of the tooth and also, the front and back surface between the surrounding teeth.
Treatments such as RCT and preps for crowns, inlays and bridges are not always 100% successful. This is vitally important that the patient is aware of this before going ahead with the procedure. I will explain to the patient what the treatment is and what the treatment process is going to involve, without using dental jargon. I will explain whys sometimes this can still fail and another course of treatment may need to be done instead, as nothing in dentistry is for life.
If I was unable to give the patient any more information or help and support, I will ask the dentist to explain the procedures and outcomes in a more thorough way, but at the same time, still at the patient’s level.
The surgeries always have leaflets explaining all the different types of dental treatments and procedures, so they can go away and read more about them.
After I have explained in as much, simple, detail I can about the procedure I will check that the patient is happy and confident in what they I have just told them, and ask them if they could briefly relay the information back to me.
Sometimes I am faced with a question or query from a patient, either in the surgery, the reception desk or on the telephone.
Depending on the nature of the question or query, I may not be able to answer it, or only have a select knowledge on it so I would refer to another member of staff.
When dealing with a question about dental procedure and treatments I would ask a senior dental nurse, or if failing that, a dentist. I would to this to ensure the patient has the correct information as I wouldn’t want to mislead or misinform of any information.
On other occasions, I may be asked a question to do with the practice policy, complaints about members of staff or dental treatment or payment of NHS services. Again I wouldn’t wont to give out any wrong or irrelative information to the patient, so in these circumstances, I will request the knowledge or assistance of the practice manager.
If it is not convenient for any member of staff, like the dentist or practice manager to speak with the patient at that time I will give the patient our address and/or telephone details, stating the name of who they need to speak to, to help with their questions or queries.
Here are some example of patient’s questions and queries I have had to deal with. These are either from nursing in surgery, and on reception dealing with patients over the phone or face to face.
1. I am currently on statutory sick pay and don’t have a dentist at present, and am I need of urgent dental treatment. Do I still need to pay?
I was able to deal with this query myself, as unfortunately for the patient I had to inform her that she will still need to pay the NHS costs for an examination or treatment as statutory sick pay doesn’t come under the requirements for general exceptions such as income support, working tax credits or job seekers allowance.
2. I have recently received a debt letter from you stating I owe money for previous treatments, how is this? I have already paid?
I was unable to deal with this patient as I didn’t