Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about a pressing risk management issue? Our experienced Risk Management analysts have answers. From treating minors to retaining patient records to employee leaves of absence, chances are, your question has been asked before. The following is a list of frequently asked questions, along with practical solutions, that can help you avoid liability within your practice.

I am considering requiring my patients to sign an arbitration agreement. I have heard that arbitration is inexpensive and is a quick method to resolving disputes. What should I do?

On the surface, arbitration appears to be a perfect solution for the dentist as well as the patient. It can be less expensive than litigation and typically moves expeditiously. However, arbitration does have its drawbacks. First, having a patient sign an arbitration agreement binds you and the patient to abide by that agreement, even if the problem could be resolved in another manner. There is no option of appealing the decision. Second, in arbitration only two to three arbitrators, as opposed to a 12-member jury panel of your peers, hear your case. Additionally, arbitrators who often hear similar cases may have preconceived notions regarding dentistry, which may affect how they evaluate your case. Finally, consider the impact of asking your patients to sign such an agreement. Often patients view signing an agreement prior to treatment as a pre-admission of substandard care. Some will perceive it as your attempt to strip them of their legal rights, should something go wrong with treatment.

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The suggestions provided represent experience and opinions of TDIC. There are no guarantees that any particular idea or suggestion will work in every situation. The ideas and suggestions contained in this document are not legal opinion and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice specific to your practice, you must consult an attorney. 

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