There are numerous types of malpractice, and in the world of insurance there are several terms that are generally synonymous with malpractice, including liability, and errors and omissions, but what is malpractice in dentistry?
Dental malpractice is defined differently by each state, however they are all fairly similar. The most common definition of malpractice is generally:
Other definitions include more specific language including:
What You, As a Dentist, Need to Know About Malpractice
Regardless of how your state defines malpractice, the one thing you need to be aware of when it comes to dental malpractice is that a patient’s malpractice claim doesn’t have to be true to end up in court.
Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, you can still receive a legal summons accusing you of wrongdoing. Patients don’t always comply with post-procedure instructions (gasp!) and they blame the dentist (you) when the procedure ultimately fails. Unfortunately, most dentists will receive at least one such summons during their career.
And sometimes, a dentist actually does miss something. Mistakes happen. Patients get angry. The accusation of misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose is common.
We live in an increasingly litigious society, and the number of lawsuits filed annually is on the rise.
That’s where your malpractice insurance comes in. Your malpractice insurance company will provide the legal representation that you need if this should happen. They have experienced attorneys on retainer in every state to defend their clients. And the insurance company pays the legal expenses involved. In most cases, the insurance company will even pay the legal costs without reducing your insurance policy limits. They will leave your insurance limits in place in case they are needed to pay a settlement, reimbursement or awarded amount to the claimant.
No one wants to think about this happening, especially right after graduation. However, a little bit of prevention goes a long way towards protecting yourself. The first step is to talk to an agent who specializes specifically in dental malpractice insurance to make sure that you understand your malpractice policy options and that you’re receiving all the information you need to make an informed decision.