The General Dental Council, along with all other eight UK healthcare regulators has now published its guidance on “Duty of Candour”. The guidance takes effect from 1st July 2016 and therefore becomes part of the “Standards for the Dental Team”, regulatory standards for dental care professionals.
The GDC has chosen to describe the duty of candour in its guidance as “Being open and honest with patients when something goes wrong”. Quite properly, in my view, it explains that this description provides better clarity of meaning.
The GDC makes clear that telling a patient about something that has gone wrong and apologising is not the same as admitting liability. This has long been the view of the indemnity providers also. It is important to remember that just because a dentist has said sorry to a patient this does not automatically mean that a negligence claim will be successful.
Likewise, if a dentist has breached their duty of candour, it is important to remember that breach of this regulatory standard does not necessarily lead to loss, sufficient to found a negligence claim. As ever, all the pieces required, breach and causation, must be present. So once again, it is important to make sure the correct standard is being applied for the cause of action alleged.
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