Medicolegal View and Implications
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In common with most human endeavours, the provision of oral health care involves risk. Medicolegal risk has assumed increasing importance over recent decades—partly as a reflection of increased consumerism, the end of the era of medical paternalism and increased regulation, scrutiny and accountability. But also partly because scientific and technological advances and the emergence of new techniques have changed the risks themselves, and partly because of the cost of health care (however it is funded).
In the delivery of oral health care and treatment, a clinician needs to develop a 360° awareness of risk, and constructive strategies for managing it. Risk need not be the enemy of safe and successful healthcare provision; it becomes so if it is disregarded or misunderstood.
An important feature of health care is the likely imbalance between the specialised knowledge and understanding of the clinician and the relative lack of knowledge of the recipient of that care. It is the clinician’s role to bridge that gap. This chapter examines the nature of the risks associated with certain procedures, how and why they arise and how the clinician can approach the process of managing those risks. It provides an international perspective of how the law impacts upon healthcare delivery, and how legal developments can influence clinical practice.
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