NEGLIGENT DENTISTS IMPOSE GAGGING ORDERS ON PATIENTS
Dentists involved in negligence claims are now asking their defence organisations to add clauses into settlements to gag people from talking about their experiences.
Last month Dental Protection, the defence organisation which has the largest membership of dentists, attached gagging clauses to 60% of claims handled by the leading dental law firm, DLP, up from just 3% in November 2012.
According to DLP these gagging clauses typically state that a patient must not discuss his or her successful claim with anyone other than their immediate family.
In some cases the gagging clause is also insistent that the regulator of dentists, the General Dental Council, or any other official body, is also kept in the dark.
Refusal to sign by clients means urgently needed compensation claims are delayed, often for those most in need of them.
Chris Dean, a director of DLP (Dental Law Partnership), who represent 60% of dental claims in the UK, said:
“In the last six months we have seen a significant increase in the number of dental negligence claims in which the dentists responsible seek to gag our clients as a condition of the settlement. This means that unless clients agree to keep quiet about their claims they will not be compensated.
“Some of our clients have had no option but to accept a gag because they need the settlement money quickly to pay for corrective treatment. Others are prepared to put up with a hugely extended fight over the claim because they are simply not willing to be ‘gagged’.”
Chris continued: “We think it is really important for people to be aware of the details of claims about poor quality dental treatment to enable them to ask the right questions of their own dentists. It is also in the public interest that information regarding settlements should be published so that dentists can put their own houses in order.”
The use of gagging clauses by the NHS was outlawed recently by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt when he said on 14th March 2013 ‘We won’t approve any [compromise agreements] with a confidentiality clause that prevents people speaking out about patient safety or patient care.’
Chris Dean again: “How odd that despite the Health Secretary’s clear guidance on the need for openness and candour in health care, dentists and Dental Protection persist in gagging dental patients.”
“It seems completely wrong that people who have been harmed by their own dentists, should then be bullied by the same dentists into keeping quiet about how they have suffered.”