Saying sorry

If something goes wrong, patients should receive a prompt, sympathetic and honest account of what has happened. Any patient who has had the misfortune to suffer through an error, of whatever nature, should receive a full explanation and a genuine apology. 

Our experience shows that an explanation and apology at an early stage can help reduce the risk of a complaint and is often all that a patient wants to hear.

GDC guidance

In its 2013 guidance Standards for the Dental Team, the GDC states: 'You should offer an apology and a practical solution where appropriate' (paragraph 5.3.8).

It goes on to say in paragraph 5.3.9 'If a complaint is justified, you should offer a fair solution. This may include offering to put things right at your own expense if you have made a mistake.'

Our advice

We have always advised our members to apologise if something goes wrong. There are no legal concerns about taking this course of action. 

Section 2 of the Compensation Act 2006 states 'an apology, offer of treatment or other redress, shall not of itself amount to an admission of negligence or breach of statutory duty'.

This guidance was correct at publication . It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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