Dental professionals feel it is harder to gain patient consent during a remote consultation, finds DDU survey

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  Posted by: The Probe      25th February 2021

More than half of dental professionals (52 per cent) surveyed stated that it was more difficult to obtain consent during a remote consultation compared to a face-to-face consultation according to new research published by the Dental Defence Union (DDU).

The DDU surveyed 255 dental members about their use of remote consultations during the pandemic and found that the majority of remote consultations were phone consultations (91 per cent) that were being undertaken in the workplace (64 per cent) as opposed to at home (13 per cent).  

The DDU also found that when undertaking a remote consultation, members were most concerned about:

  • Ability to assess the patient (38 per cent)
  • Indemnity coverage for this type of work (19 per cent)
  • Communication problems (9 per cent)
  • Maintaining confidentiality (6 per cent)
  • Taking contemporaneous notes (6 per cent)
  • Obtaining patient consent (6 per cent)

Leo Briggs, deputy head of the DDU said, “The use of remote consultations has increased dramatically during the pandemic. While much face-to-face dentistry has resumed, remote consultations are still useful, particularly when triaging patients and when helping to protect vulnerable patients. However, they still present some challenges for dental professionals.   

“It can sometimes be difficult to ascertain whether consent has been given. Another problem can be developing a rapport with a patient using remote methods as the patient may not be familiar with this style of consultation and may feel uncomfortable. It is therefore important to put them at their ease from the outset. This in turn will benefit the consultation by making it easier for the patient to provide relevant information and respond to questions.

“The DDU provide indemnity for members who carry out remote consultations during the pandemic. Members do not need to let us know they are carrying out this work unless it increases the number of sessions they work.”  

The survey was held as part of the DDU’s Remote consultations webinar which focused on topics including:

  • Dento-legal implications of remote consultations
  • The importance of consent, confidentiality and recording keeping when consulting remotely
  • The role of administrative systems and procedures prior to conducting a remote consultation.

Available for a limited time only, dental professionals can watch the webinar on-demand here. If they successfully complete the quiz at the end they can receive one hour of verifiable CPD to help meet the GDC’s learning objectives A, B and D.


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