Patient’s rights are important to us. Within Australia, the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights (ACHR) applies to the entire healthcare system. It allows patients, consumers, families, carers and healthcare providers to have a common understanding of the rights of people receiving healthcare. The rights included in the ACHR relate to access, safety, respect, communication, participation, privacy and comment.
Family Dental Care’s Patient Rights Policy
Family Dental Care has developed the following charter of patient rights consistent with the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights.
Family Dental Care’s Charter of Patient Rights
Family Dental Care aims to provide patients with appointments to meet their treatment needs. It is requested patients make an agreed appointment time/date to assist the scheduling process, notifying the practice where this appointment cannot be met. To assist you in remembering your appointment, we contact patients via:
- Telephone call reminder
- Postal Reminder
The cancellation policy of Family Dental Care requires 24 hours’ notice for cancellation of an appointment. Should the patient cancel without the required notice period, a fee may be charged.
All new patients are sent a welcome letter which includes information about the appointment process. If the appointment is less than 3 days, this letter is given at the time of arrival. It discusses the amount charged for failing to attend or late cancellations. A map is included and payment options and what they can expect at their first appointment.
Family Dental Care aims to provide appropriate dental services in a safe, secure and supportive environment. We encourage patients and/or staff to raise any concerns they may have. If a concern is raised, all staff and management are required to address the concern as soon as possible.
All new patients are required to complete a full medical history form as accurately and completely as possible, and at regular intervals, a medical history update form. This will allow staff to identify any circumstances that may increase the risks associated with dental care.
In the unlikely occurrence of an adverse event, dental practitioners at Family Dental Care have a responsibility to be open and honest in communications with the patient involved, and families or carers if applicable.
It is the responsibility of the registered dental practitioner, in accordance with the Dental Board of Australia’s Code of Conduct for Registered Health Practitioners, to explain to the patient what happened and why, as well as offering support and advice with regard to how the situation can best be resolved or managed.
Upon recognising the occurrence of an adverse event, the dental practitioner will follow our Open Disclosure Process, which aligns with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s Open Disclosure Standard, as outlined below:
- Act immediately to rectify the problem, if possible, including seeking any necessary help and advice
- Explain to the patient, in sufficient detail, so the patient understands what has occurred, including the anticipated short-term and long-term consequences.
- Acknowledge any patient distress and provide appropriate support
- Develop a future management plan for the patient if required
- Ensure that the patient has access to information about the process for making a complaint
Sufficient detail is to be recorded in patient records to reflect the information provided to the patient about the incident, associated risks and likely consequences. The dental practitioner will notify the occurrence of the adverse event to their professional indemnity insurer, consistent with the clauses of their policy.
Family Dental Care values all patients as a unique person and hope that at all times we can provide dental treatment in a manner that is respectful of their culture, beliefs, values and personal characteristics. Patients are asked to reciprocate this respect by being mindful of all staff at Family Dental Care and other patients.
Communication and decision making
Family Dental Care respects the patient’s right to receive adequate information to make informed decisions regarding their health and healthcare. Consequently, all staff should continually demonstrate a commitment to providing patients with accessible and understandable information about their treatment and treatment options, including costs, proposed medications and risks involved. This should also include maintaining suitable evidence that patients are fully informed about their proposed treatment and have been a partner in the development of their treatment plan. Such evidence will be monitored through Family Dental Care’s review processes.
We do expect patients to actively participate in decision and choices about their treatment and dental needs. For extensive treatment plans we also encourage a patient to involve their family or carer in the decision making process.
Family Dental Care’s Informed Consent Process
The initial examination of a patient shall be considered ‘implied consent’ to that procedure based on the booking of an appointment, attendance, and the patient allowing the physical examination to occur. Any subsequent treatment shall require the patient to make an informed decision and consent to the treatment either verbally or in writing depending on the procedure and associated risks.
The dental practitioner who is to perform the treatment is responsible for the following informed consent process in line with the Dental Board of Australia’s Code of Conduct for Registered Health Practitioners.
A patient will be:
- Told (or receive information in some other way) what procedure is being proposed
- Told (or receive information in some other way) about the possible risks and benefits of the treatment in a form or manner they can understand
- Informed of the risks and benefits of all options
- Afforded the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers that meet with their satisfaction
- Afforded sufficient time (if needed) to discuss the plan with their family, carer or advisor, especially for complex treatment plans
- Fully informed of and comprehending the cost of treatment
- Able to use the information provided to them to help them make a decision they believe is in their best interest, in the absence of any coercion from the dental practitioner
- Afforded the opportunity to communicate their decision to the dental practitioner either verbally or in writing
Family Dental Care requires all dental practitioners to provide relevant documentation to the patient about the proposed treatment. The practice also requires dental practitioners to use their clinical judgement to determine where written consent is required from the patient and/or carer.
Dental practitioners shall take into account additional considerations regarding guardianship arrangements for consent matters when dealing with vulnerable patients.
Sufficient detail is to be recorded in patient records to reflect the information provided to the patient is associated with their treatment options and the treatment plan, which is ultimately agreed upon.
Informed consent documentation
All informed consent documentation used by the practitioners at Family Dental Care is reviewed at regular intervals and any updates to these documents are designed to improve patient understanding and the quality of care provided.
Family Dental Care’s Complaint Handling Process
Family Dental Care will acknowledge and respond in a timely manner, either verbally or in writing, in respect to the seriousness of the complaint. We aim to respond to all complaints within 5 days.
All complaints will be reported and reviewed by the practice manager or principal dentist of the practice. Family Dental Care expects responsibility for the management of practitioner related complaints will lie with the dental practitioner about whom the complaint is related.
Complaints Review Process
Family Dental Care is committed to continuous improvement in safety and quality. The practice manager will analyse data/feedback and take action where required. Any review actions/outcomes will be communicated to staff. In addition, incidents and analysis of incidents are reviewed by the practice manager.