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Practical How To

What are the most common malpractice insurance claim issues?

In this post, CDSPI presents the most common issues that emerge from reviewing malpractice insurance claim cases. 

CDSPI focuses on helping dental professionals successfully reach their goals by providing financial planning solutions and other support services.

Communication with the Patient

  • After completing an assessment, discuss the nature and extent of the required treatment with the patient. This should include:
    • A review of their dental issues,
    • Recommendations on how to address these (including options where available),
    • Potential risks of treatment,
    • Anticipated cost,
    • Length of treatment (i.e. number of visits over a period of time), and
    • Any after-care requirements or adjustments.
  • If there are changes to the nature or cost of the treatment, these should be communicated to the patient, along with the reasons for those changes.
  • Often, patients are concerned about the cost of specialized treatment and there may be viable lower cost options that can be explored. In situations where these considerations arise, be clear about what the patient can expect from a course of general dentistry treatment (i.e. durability, possible limitations on the ability to correct certain conditions) as opposed to specialized care.


  • Consent to procedures should be recorded on the chart for all but the most basic treatment and in a separate form signed by the patient for more complicated procedures.
  • Discussions with the patient should be recorded as well.
  • Charts should be maintained in an orderly, legible form, with entries made contemporaneously to the provision of treatment.


  • There are circumstances where a patient presents with issues after being treated by another practitioner. Members should be aware that most Colleges and associations have provisions in their Code of Conduct/Ethics which require members to refrain from expressing an opinion on the quality of work performed by other practitioners.


The comments made by Aviva in this post do not constitute legal advice, but reflect their experience with malpractice claims and are not intended to replace any dental licensing bodies guidelines with regard to appropriate documentation of patient files.

The Malpractice Insurance plan is a part of the Canadian Dentists’ Insurance Program. The Program is a member benefit of the CDA and participating provincial and territorial dental associations. The plan is underwritten by Aviva Insurance Company of Canada. Advisory services are offered through CDSPI Advisory Services Inc.

Do you have other cases that you would like to share on Oasis Discussions ? Email us at jcdaoasis@cda-adc.ca


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