Common Legal Issues Faced by Dentists and How a Retained Lawyer Can Help

As a dentist, you know how important it is to keep your patients' teeth healthy and strong. But you also know that sometimes things can go wrong, and when they do, you want to be able to provide the most comprehensive care for your patients. Having a lawyer on retainer can help with this process by helping mitigate liability risks or disputes with your patients.

A retained lawyer can help you quickly and easily review your liability issues and understand how best to protect or defend your practice, improve business operations, manage disputes and document your business practices. Here are some of the common legal issues dentists face:

Informed consent and negligence

It's important to understand both informed consent and negligence regarding dental care. Informed consent is when a dentist discloses all risks associated with a procedure to a patient, and the patient agrees to go ahead with the treatment. Negligence, on the other hand, is when a dentist fails to provide adequate care, and as a result, the patient is harmed. If you're facing a lawsuit related to either of these issues, a retained lawyer can help navigate the situation and defend your practice.

HIPAA compliance and patient privacy

Dental offices have a lot to consider when it comes to compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Not only do they need to take steps to ensure that patient data is protected, but they also need to be careful about how they use and share that information. In addition, dental offices must take steps to ensure that patients understand their rights when it comes to their health information.  

The best way to ensure HIPAA compliance is to have a dental lawyer on retainer. This can help to ensure that you are up-to-date on the latest rules and regulations and that you have someone to turn to with questions or concerns. In addition, having a lawyer on retainer can help to put patients at ease, knowing that their privacy is being taken seriously.  

Employment laws and contracts

Dental practices often have a team of employees, ranging from dentists to hygienists to office staff. It's important to clearly understand employment laws and how they apply to your practice. This includes wages and overtime, discrimination and harassment policies, and proper termination procedures.

Having a retained lawyer specializing in employment law can help ensure that you're hiring and employment practices comply with laws and regulations. They can also assist with drafting and reviewing employment contracts for new hires and existing employees. This can provide peace of mind and protect your practice from potential legal issues.

Contract disputes with vendors or other dentists

It's not uncommon for dental practices to have disagreements with their vendors or other dentists. When these disputes occur, it's essential to have a dental lawyer on retainer who can help resolve the issue. Having a lawyer on retainer ensures that you have someone familiar with the law and who knows how to navigate the legal process. This can be especially helpful if the dispute escalates and goes to court.  

In addition, a lawyer on retainer can provide valuable advice and guidance on avoiding future contract disputes. By being proactive and taking steps to protect your practice, you can minimize the risk of having problems with vendors or other dentists in the future.

Professional disciplinary actions

Disciplinary actions are usually handled internally by dental practices. However, there are times when professional disciplinary action may be warranted. This is usually done when there is a complaint or allegation of misconduct against a dentist. In these cases, it is essential to have a dental lawyer on retainer to protect your rights and interests.  

A dental lawyer can help you navigate the disciplinary process and ensure that you receive a fair hearing. They can also help you understand the allegations against you and determine whether they have merit. If you are facing disciplinary action, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible is important to protect your rights and interests.

Insurance Disputes

Insurance policies typically exclude certain claims or disputes, such as dental malpractice claims. That's good for dentists who want to keep financial risk low. But when you have an issue with your policy, an attorney can help ensure you're not financially out of pocket if a claim becomes necessary.  

They can also look at coverage gaps or gaps in the policy language that make it difficult to defend against claims. With a retained lawyer on retainer, you can be sure that any claims remain within the scope of your policy (and therefore not excluded from coverage) and that the policy is drafted in a way that protects your practice.

What to look for in a dental retainer lawyer

Reputable and experienced

When choosing a dental lawyer for a retainer, it's important to ensure they have a good reputation and experience in the dental industry. This will increase their understanding of the unique laws and regulations that apply to dentistry. You can also ask for references or seek recommendations from trusted colleagues in the dental industry.

Specialization in the dental industry

In addition to being experienced, it's also important to choose a lawyer who specializes in the dental industry. This means they thoroughly understand the laws and regulations that apply specifically to dentistry. You can ask about their experience with dental cases or inquire if they are a member of any dental or legal organizations.

A compatible personality

Make sure to have open and clear communication with your retained lawyer. This will help them understand your practice's specific needs and concerns and allow for effective collaboration when addressing legal issues. It's important to work with a lawyer you feel comfortable communicating with and can trust to handle your legal needs professionally.

With a retained lawyer on retainer, you can be confident that all the risks you face as a dentist are covered. By having a lawyer on retainer, you'll be able to protect better your practice and your patients from a wide range of legal issues. So, if you're a dentist looking for more peace of mind and the freedom to focus on the things that truly matter, look no further than a retained lawyer.

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only. The provision of this material does not create an attorney-client relationship between the firm and the reader and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this newsletter are not a substitute for legal counsel. Do not take action in reliance on the contents of this material without seeking the advice of counsel.

The information contained in this blog may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. Accordingly, information in this blog is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete, and should not be relied upon as such. Readers should conduct their own appropriate legal research.

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