Clinical risk is associated with carrying out dental examinations, treatment and care of patients.
Examples of clinical risk include:
- allergies or intolerances to materials (e.g. latex, adrenaline)
- sharps injury (e.g. needlestick)
- inhalation or ingestion of foreign objects
- broken instruments
- misjudging patient expectations
- crown or bridge failure
- burns or trauma related to instrumentation
- extraction of the wrong tooth
- poor lab work
- failures in diagnosis (e.g. undiagnosed periodontitis).
Although dental teams can insure against some of these risks through professional indemnity, indemnity organisations would advise that avoidance of these risks would be desirable and risk-reduction measures should be in place.
Examples of risk-reduction measures include:
- routine use of rubber dams and clamp chains
- disposing of sharps as recommended in standard infection control precautions
- discarding of instruments as per manufacturers instructions e.g.single use items
- maintaining good communication (both verbal and written) with patients (see Communication)
- keeping diagnostic and clinical skills up to date
- working with due care and attention.