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Patient Safety in Dentistry

29 Jul

By Barry Kinshuck, Dental Adviser representing the British Dental Association

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My name is Barry Kinshuck and I have been asked to represent dentistry by the British Dental Association in the excellent project to be undertaken by the James Lind Alliance Primary Care Patient Safety Priority Setting Partnership.

As a dental practitioner in Wigan for nearly 40 years and a dental adviser in Wigan and now Greater Manchester I have seen continuous changes and improvements in patient safety in dentistry.

The dental profession is committed to providing safe dental care, which is necessary for ensuring good general health, and aims to minimise risks and establish an open culture of patient safety, in which practitioners can learn from their own and others’ experience.

Duty of Care

Responsibilities for health and safety are set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (the Act) and associated regulations. The Act seeks to protect all those at work – employers, employees and the self-employed, as well as members of the public who may be affected by the work activities of these people.

Care Quality Commission inspects dental practices and wants to see evidence that a dental practice is:

  1. Safe
  2. Effective
  3. Caring
  4. Responsive to patients’ needs
  5. Well led

Safety is top of the list and dental practices should be able to demonstrate how they:

  • Manage risk
  • Prevent infection
  • Provide suitable premises and equipment
  • ManageĀ  and maintain equipment
  • Manage medical devices
  • How lessons are learnt and improvements are made when something goes wrong
  • What systems, processes and practices are in place to keep people safe and safeguard them from abuse?

The General Dental Council

This is the organisation that regulates dental professionals and in their document Standards for the dental team makes several statements of relevance with respect to patient safety:

  • Principle one (put patient’s interests first) states in standard 1.5.4 ‘You must record all patient safety incidents and report them promptly to the appropriate national body’.
  • Principle eight (raise concerns of patients at risk) states in standard 8.1 ‘You must always put patients’ safety first’.

The James Lind Alliance Primary Care Patient Safety Priority Setting Partnership provides an opportunity for the British Dental Association to understand what areas of patient safety matter most to patients and healthcare professionals.