Reopening your Dental Practice

With the news that dental practices are able to re-open, the level of patient contact will be gradually increasing throughout the remainder of the year. Your continued responsibility and duty of care to both employees and members of the public can be achieved by;

  • Following the clinical advice from NHS England, or equivalent home nations advice
  • Following advice from the FGDP or GDC
  • Follow advice from HSE
  • If you’re a BDA member follow the advice in the BDA re-opening toolkit

The question over the requirement for use of respirator masks, and how they are fitted, is one of your most pressing issues. Please find below which liability cover would respond in respect to this.

At your Practice

Medical Malpractice or Professional Indemnity Insurance

If you have a BDA Indemnity policy, RSA have confirmed the policy would respond in respect to this activity, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy. If you do not have the BDA Indemnity scheme policy, you should refer to your insurer or defence organisation for advice on whether their definition of dental services would include the fitting and testing the masks.

Employers Liability and Public Liability under your Practice Insurance

As Covid-19 continues to have an impact on dental practices, minimising risks to you, your staff and patients remains a priority. The fitting of masks is no different to any other risk or potential liability claim you could face. By following the clinical advice from the sources listed above, amending your working practices and risk assessments to reflect those changes will assist you and your insurer in the event of a claim.

In relation to Employers Liability and Public Liability insurance, there is no exclusion relating to Covid-19. The policy would help to defend the practice if there were allegations of causing a patient, or employee, to contract Coronavirus due to an ill-fitting mask. As usual, this is subject to the terms and conditions of policies, including an exclusion relating to liability during the provision of medical treatment.

Depending on how well you have documented and followed guidelines will help determine if a claim would be successful.

However, in order to pay damages, the practice would have to be proven negligent in some way, before any such claim could be considered under the policy.

Also please note that in situations where healthcare professionals are redeployed to work elsewhere in the NHS, then liability cover may pass to the NHS, under the Coronavirus Act 2020.

At a third party business and third party premises

Medical Malpractice or Professional Indemnity Insurance

If you have a BDA Indemnity policy, RSA have confirmed the policy would respond in respect to this activity, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy. If you do not have the BDA Indemnity scheme policy, you should refer to your insurer or defence organisation for advice on whether their definition of dental services would include the fitting and testing the masks.

If you are charging for this business activity, this is unlikely to be covered, you would need to refer to your insurer or defence organisation.

Employers Liability and Public Liability under your Practice Insurance

We would expect that the third party business would be doing the same as yourselves in becoming trained and accredited in the first instance.

We would also expect the onus would be on their business insurance to protect you, or your employee, if you are undertaking this activity at a third party business, although you have the duty of care to your employee to check that the other business has also followed all the guidance and is as a safe an environment as it can be. There is no cover under your Public Liability section arising from any professional advice or service given, this would include the fitting and testing of masks. This advice should be picked up under the Medical Malpractice or Professional Indemnity policy.

 

This advice has been written with all available knowledge, expertise and guidance from relevant authorities and insurers at time of publication.