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Communication During Examination and Treatment

Ensure all staff involved with the care of patients introduce themselves to each patient. Consider the use of name badges, an information poster or TV monitor displaying names, images of practice staff and roles within the practice.

If the patient has been kept waiting beyond their appointment time, ensure staff keep them informed of the reasons why, offering an apology if necessary, and discuss alternative arrangements, if required.

Establish the patient’s medical history, including recording medications prescribed and any over-the-counter preparations (see Patient Histories). Stress the patient’s responsibility to disclose their medical history.

Consider displaying a pregnancy enquiry poster (see Patient Pregnancy Query Poster template) that can be easily seen by the patient in both the surgery and the waiting room.

Ask the patient if they have any particular anxieties about dental treatment. If you suspect the patient is anxious, ask them to complete a Dental Anxiety Questionnaire and consider anxiety-management options.

Discuss with the patient their preferred method of pain control.

Offer the opportunity for the patient to ask questions throughout their treatment and discuss with the patient the results of any examination.

Begin examination and treatment only after the patient has been made aware of what to expect and has provided valid consent (see Obtaining Consent). This may be verbal.

Provide information about aftercare (e.g. surgical post-operative instructions).

If medication is needed, inform the patient of the reasons for taking the medication, common side-effects and where to obtain the medication.

If referral (including urgent referral) is needed, inform the patient about where they will be seen and the likely waiting times (see Communication with Other Professionals and Referrals).

Provide information for patients about what they can do to help prevent the need for further treatment, and include this in the written personal care plan.