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Referral Letters

Writing Referrals by

Writing referral letters

The Definitive Guide To

Writing Referral Letters

By

@DentistGoneBadd

 

 

Basic Referral Writing

Let’s start with the essentials. Referral letters should contain the basics; name, sex (if any – I don’t like to ask really), date of birth and reason for returning….oh sorry, that’s sending a parcel back to Amazon. Long gone are the days of “Please see and treat,” so try and give the specialist you are referring to, a bit of a clue as to the reason for your referral. Throw in a couple of vague differential diagnoses if you can, just to demonstrate you aren’t completely gormless, with proper medical terms like ‘epidermolysis bullosa’ or ‘squishy lump.’ It’s probably best not to refer a patient just because you don’t like the look of them, tempting though it is.

Writing referral letters

Choice of Specialist

If you are worried about a lump, it’s best to send to a consultant lumpologist. But beware, some specialisms do cross over and consultants can get a bit elbowy and will fight over interesting lesions. I once witnessed a near fist-fight between an oral medic and an oral surgery registrar – both convinced they could write a paper about it. Every time, make sure you are referring to the most appropriate department. One department will treat a lesion with a spray and ineffective mouthwash, while another will cut it out and put an implant in its place.

 

Oral Surgery Referrals

Oral surgery referrals are probably the most common type made. It’s not quite clear why this should be. Fewer dentists get into trouble over oral surgery than perio neglect or root-treatments. I think that oral surgery is probably all a bit too gooey for a lot of dentals and the anticipation of complications is overthought. Because oral surgery departments are absolutely swamped, you have to make a convincing case. Warfarin patients are no longer a bar to treatment in practice, so throw in ‘difficult access’ and ‘a history of difficult extractions’ for good measure. ‘Proximity to the antrum’ doesn’t often wash. Since many oral surgery departments insist on you supplying a supporting radiograph, they can justifiably throw out the referral and tell you where to stick your jpeg when they realise it’s a lower molar you are talking about.

Writing referral letters

Orthodontic Referrals

These are probably a little more clear-cut, if you completely ignore IOTN, which I did. I doubt very much if it’s done now, but the acronym ‘FLK’ (Funny Looking Kid) in the margins of the old paper files, acted as a reminder to refer to the orthodontist once the overcrowding started to hurt your aesthetic sensibilities. I find FLK’s generally DO get orthodontic treatment, so providing they are reasonably competent with toothbrushing, and generally look as if they’re using the hairy end, send that referral. Again, don’t just ask to ‘see and treat’. Throw in ‘well-motivated,’ ‘optimal oral hygiene’ and ‘very stroppy mother’ to emphasise the need for action. Chuck in a couple of measurements if you can, and try and crowbar in a stab at a ‘division’ to show to the orthodontist you’ve given it some careful consideration.

Writing referral letters

Periodontal Referrals

This type of referral is usually done in panic five minutes after you have just unexpectedly lost a BPE probe down a previously scoring ‘1,’ so do try and keep the panic out of your letter. Make it sound like you’ve been closely monitoring things for a considerable period of time and really emphasise that when you first saw the patient, most of the damage was already done. ‘Despite my oral hygiene instruction’ also shows that you have been caring, but don’t get too down about having to refer and being condemned by the periodontist. The specialist will probably only see the patient for twenty minutes max anyway, and will never see them again, immediately throwing the patient into the ‘Pit of Hygienists.’

Writing referral letters

Endodontic Referrals

Endodontic referrals are becoming incredibly popular and you are highly unlikely to get one rejected, since they are often made to private specialists. Don’t bother trying to refer to your local dental hospital. The sun will have died well before your patient gets to the top of the list. Besides, dental hospital endodontists are exceptionally picky about what they treat. My local dental hospital won’t treat any tooth beyond a first molar. They aren’t that clear why, though I suspect it’s because trying to get to a seven is a bit ‘too fiddly.’ Failure in endodontics is a growing area of litigation and if you are an NHS dentist in particular, don’t risk ANY root-treatment – refer. You can throw a lot of information into your referral letter – sclerosis, unusual anatomy or “There’s a prominent squiddly-do on my radiograph” – but it doesn’t matter. These are endodontists. They have to pay for swanky microscopes and German Sportwagen. They’ll accept anything.

magnification

 

Implant Referrals

See Endodontic Referrals. Patients think they are the same thing anyway.

 

Prosthetics Referrals

Tricky. Prosthetics specialists are a dying species. Their natural habitat in the 60’s and 70’s was gummy, but since forestation with teeth, the need for them has diminished. The few prosthetists left, tend to pack together at dental schools, desperately attempting to procure close relationships with implantologists, borne out of their innate instinct to survive. Having said all that, I have had more referrals rejected by prosthetics specialists than any other type. To be absolutely honest with you, whatever you say in your referral to a denture specialist, they’ll write back with “We would recommend extending the flanges and see no reason why this cannot be carried out in practice. Now leave me alone. I need to bury my nuts for the winter.” Good luck.

Writing referral letters

Community Clinic/Paediatric Referrals

This is where you send all of your ‘challenging’ patients, or those that take an hour to do an enamel-only incisal edge composite on. Terms you should include in your letter are ‘wriggly,’ ‘anxious,’ ‘fearful,’ ‘phobic’ and ‘gagger,’ though be careful you don’t end up making it sound like a Facebook advert for happy hour at the local S&M Club. Make it absolutely clear that this patient needs sedation. Forget about suggesting GA. The clinicians at these emporia don’t stop talking about the risk of death from the time the patient enters the place having found it after previously mistakenly walking into the adjacent STD Clinic. If your local clinics have their own referral forms and it gives you the option to have the patient back if they refuse sedation, tick ‘NO!!!’

Writing referral letters

Restorative Specialist Referrals

 

Quite a few restorative specialists lurk in dental schools, but despite this, they try not to have anything to do with teeth. There is only one important, indeed, CRITICAL sentence you need to include in your referral letter, and that is: “I am ALREADY monitoring the diet and wear.”

 

Oral Medicine Department Referrals

 

You will normally refer to the oral medicine specialists as a means of backing up your diagnosis, which is almost certainly, atypical facial pain/burning mouth syndrome. Often, you would save a lot of time by giving a nightguard or benzydamine hydrochloride rather than wasting your time on a referral letter.

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3078 Hits
JAN
14
0

Pointless?

Pointless

Continue reading
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1929 Hits
MAY
29
0

Ortho for Dummys

Orthodontics for Dummies

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6735 Hits
MAR
29
0

Orthodontic Offers

Orthodontic Offers

 

Orthodontic treatment remains as popular as ever with patients.

To ensure you can provide quality comprehensive orthodontic treatment, Wrights is offering top-of-the-range products at unbeatable prices.

An exclusive distributor of G&H Orthodontics, Wrights has everything you need from Bracket Systems to Buccal Tubes, Molar Bands, Pliers, Bonding Supplies, Cheek Retractors and more.

The leading supplier also offers a range of high quality own-brand orthodontic products that are competitively priced.

Plus, Wrights offers free next day delivery on any order, regardless of the value or size.

For a full list of products and exclusive deals available, either visit the easy-to-use website and examine the detailed catalogue or contact Wrights to speak to a friendly sales adviser.

Get your orthodontic supplies for less with Wrights.

 

For more information contact Wrights on 0800 66 88 99 or visit the easy to navigate website www.wright-cottrell.co.uk

  2256 Hits
2256 Hits
MAR
13

The problem with PDS contracts - John Grant

The problem with PDS contracts - John Grant

John Grant of Goodman Grant Solicitors explains the difficulties that NHS orthodontists may encounter when the time comes to sell their practice…

It is often the case that the majority of NHS orthodontists will have a Personal Dental Services (PDS) agreement rather than a General Dental Services (GDS) contract, which, unfortunately, can make it difficult for a contractor to sell.

This is because PDS contracts are time-limited; at present, the longest contracts are being renewed for three years. While LATs are likely to grant this, there is nothing obliging them to do so. Indeed, if an LAT were to decline a renewal request, there would be nothing an orthodontist could do.

The second issue is that, unlike GDS contracts, PDS contracts cannot be transferred  using the partnership route . Since 2006, NHS practices have been bought and sold by introducing a partner to the contract with the seller subsequently retiring – resulting in a  smoothish transition from one principal to the next. As this is simply unavailable for PDS contracts, on the face of it they are unsalable.

In 2006, there was a change in the law that allowed dentists to incorporate their businesses. After years of uncertainty in 2013, NHS England introduced its incorporation policy – effectively making incorporating possible – if by no means guaranteed. For orthodontists, this created the opportunity for the sale of their contracts: by transferring the practice’s assets, including the NHS contract, to the limited company. Then, by selling the shares in the company  the value of the practice could be realised.

Nowadays, however, the LATs’ attitudes towards incorporations have changed. More and more often, they are requesting tangible benefits – and the focus tends to be on the patients. Typically, their requests manifests as a request for extended opening hours; a recent case saw an incorporation application denied because the practice refused to commit to more than an extra hour a week, showing how stringent the LAT can be in this regard.

Of course, assuming the LAT does agree to the incorporation in principle, the problems for the contractor will not suddenly cease. At this stage, the LAT will produce a Deed of Novation – which operates to transfer the NHS contract to the limited company. Included in this document are two sections of which practitioners must be particularly aware.

The first is that the LAT will require a guarantee from the contractor that the contractor will personally guarantee the performance by the limited company of the NHS contract. This does not represent a problem whilst the contractor holds the shares in the limited company – it places them in no worse position than they were prior to incorporation. Complications arise, however, after the sale of shares, due to the way in which the deed is drafted unless amended the personal guarantee will continue even after the contractor has sold their shares.

Secondly, a Deed of Novation will include what is known as a change of control clause, which subjects any transfer of shares  of 10% or more in the Company (which obviously will be the case on a sale)  to the approval of the LAT. This essentially puts the decision as to whether the principal can sell in the LAT’s hands – and if they were to refuse it would be extremely difficult to challenge that decision.

 

John Grant of Goodman Grant Lawyers for Dentists - a NASDAL member

For more information call John Grant on 0113 834 3705 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.goodmangrant.co.uk

A NASDAL and ASPD MEMBER

 

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2296 Hits
JAN
14

The Real Thing

b2ap3_thumbnail_The-Real-Thing.jpg

Many great products and ideas are copied or counterfeited, but your patients need to be protected from fake products in order to avoid poorly made and uncomfortable appliances.

 

IAS Academy, providers of genuine anterior alignment orthodontic devices, are helping to put a stop to this – all Inman Aligners will now be supplied with a “Genuine Inman Aligner Authentication Card”.

 

Each time you fit an Inman Aligner you will be able to give your patient an authentication card so that they can enjoy increased reassurance. Patients can then enter their unique identifier code at the Inman Aligner website to ensure that they have received a genuine appliance.

 

All devices are fabricated at a certified Inman Aligner laboratory, with laser etched tubing on the tongue side of the appliance featuring the name Inman Aligner. They are also supplied in a presentation box with patient instructions and a custom appliance case to ensure the best possible results.

 

Make sure your patients are receiving ‘the real thing’ and only accept the best.

 

For more information on IAS Academy, providers of genuine anterior alignment orthodontic devices please visit  www.iasortho.com or phone 0845 366 5477

  2335 Hits
2335 Hits
JAN
12

You’re never too old to wear a brace - Tim Bradstock-Smith

You’re never too old to wear a brace

With near-invisible options available, plus faster treatment times, it is no surprise that more adults than ever before are embarking on orthodontic treatment.
 

With the means to afford it, they know that improving their teeth will benefit them professionally as well as personally, particularly if they add an adjunctive treatment like whitening. Orthodontics are now much more stable than they were in the past; correcting work they had done as a child is also highly appealing.
 

It is far easier to practice a successful oral care routine and keep the mouth clean if teeth are aligned properly and gaps closed up. Correct a patient’s bite and you can reduce toothwear too. A course of orthodontics may also prevent problems with the gingiva getting worse.
 

However, it might be the case that not only do you not currently offer orthodontic treatment, but that you have no plans to do so either. The cutting-edge OPG machines and 3D scanners on the market are exciting, yet out of the reach for many, particularly if you are only seeing a couple of potential cases a month. The technology is moving fast and staff need to be trained and retrained.
 

Referrals are not something to be feared - you will not ‘lose’ your patient. Instead, referring out can enhance and expand your treatment provision. It can also be a conduit to building and consolidating loyalty. By referring people out to a trusted partner, you are saying that, although you do not have the resources to provide the required orthodontics yourself, you want to give your patient a successful route through the (expensive) minefield. Especially if their previous experience of this kind of treatment was not a positive one, you will be supporting patients to improve their smile and oral health with the help of a clinician that you trust.
 

Adult orthodontic patients have high expectations of aesthetically pleasing and stable results.  They are aware of the choice out there and will use the internet to look at practitioner reviews and compare pricing. They will know what they want to achieve, including a reassurance that they are in safe hands. Choose your referral partner wisely – you want to feel confident about a successful outcome every time. For example, The London Smile Clinic has world-class specialists, plus has the latest technology already in place to guarantee fantastic results for even the most complex problems.
 

Investing time and money in developing new services can be daunting and, for many practices, an impossible notion. Referrals can be an easy solution to the rise in demand for adult orthodontics. The right referring clinic will work with you to allay your patients’ fears and promote the benefits of the latest ethical and minimally invasive techniques. It is therefore crucial to find the best referring partner for you, to make life easier for your patients as well as guaranteeing excellent results.  

 

For more information, please contact The London Smile Clinic on 020 7255 2559 or visit www.londonsmile.co.uk.

 

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4035 Hits

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