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CS Dental Employee
CS Dental Employee

Patient Treatment or X-Rays Refused in Your Practice?

Good morning!

I interviewed dental office staff about practice management. 

There were two points I was unaware of, and candidly, taken off guard by.

The first was patient refusal to have X-Rays taken. 

The second was refusal for treatment (until the patient experienced pain). 

Is this something you experience in your practice, and if so, how do you address these problems? 

I'd love to hear from you.

3 Replies
joedindo
Premolar III

Re: Patient Treatment or X-Rays Refused in Your Practice?

Yes this happens and how to handle it is a matter of the practice's care philosophy. Re x-rays, the legal burden of care falls on the Dentist regardless of what the patient does/says/refuses. So if we don't take an x-ray and a dental issue arises as a result of the lack fo x-ray, the "fault" is that of the Dentist in the eyes of the law. As such, we have a firm policy that x-rays must be taken. If the patient doesn't want x-rays due to $s, we handle that on a case-by-case basis and sometimes write-off the charges but only the first time. If the patient doesn't want x-rays due to concern of radiation exposure, we explain how digital x-rays address that concern.
joedindo
Premolar III

Re: Patient Treatment or X-Rays Refused in Your Practice?

Refusal of treatment is more complicated but we ensure that we have a conversation to ensure informed consent. If we've done everything we can to ensure that the patient makes an informed decision, then we've done our job.
sonyap
Premolar III

Re: Patient Treatment or X-Rays Refused in Your Practice?

We have a form for the patient to sign, indicating that they have been explained the risks of refusing xrays and/or an exam and that they take full responsibility for it (even though it's not worth the paper it's written on).  This often lends a little more weight to the importance of it, and if the patient feels that they have committed in writing, they are more likely to comply.  However, as @joedindo said, WE are ultimately responsible.

Flat out refusing treatment is not a big issue in our office.  Usually we can give the patient multiple options (good, better, best) and let them choose.  Now that doesn't mean that patients don't just avoid scheduling for the procedure....but rarely do they say "I'm not taking care of this tooth".