Indemnity Organisations Extend Protection For Practice Owners

Indemnity Organisations Extend Protection For Practice Owners

Dental Protection has become the latest indemnity organisation to offer additional protection to practice principals against vicarious liability.

Dental Protection (DP) said it has extended its benefits for current and new practice principal members in view of the growing concern about claims relating to treatment provided by self-employed, contracted dental practitioners.

DP says the dental claims environment is becoming ‘ever more complex.’  The indemnity organisation will be offering the additional layer of protection is included at no additional cost with effect from 1 June 2021 for current and new practice principal members who own, or have previously owned, up to three dental practices.

DP followed the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) which was  the first of the major professional indemnity organisations to recently automatically cover vicarious liability for dental practice owners.

Many dental practice owners were alarmed  when a judge at Cardiff County court ruled that the former owner of a Merthyr Tydfil dental practice could be held vicariously responsible for treatment carried out by associates, as reported by GDPUK.

The MDDUS says it will automatically apply a vicarious liability extension to members on its  GDP Practice Owners grade. The company says this is available to members who own and work in a single practice.

The news led many practitioners to review their indemnity protection cover.  The Dental Law Partnership’s interest in the case did little to alleviate practitioner anxiety.

Geoff Jones, Executive Director, Member Protection and Support, Dental Protection, said

 “Sadly, there is a growing and unnecessary trend in some dental law firms pursuing claims against the practice owner rather than the self-employed dentists who provided the treatment and against whom negligence is allegedThis has resulted in practice owners feeling vulnerable.

“We are disappointed to see these claims being brought as they can cause real distress for the practice owner - they also pose a risk to the long-established dental practice model and the traditional arrangements that exist between practice owners and their associates.

“The law requires that individual practitioners hold appropriate indemnity to ensure patients have access to compensation in the event of a successful claim. There is no legal requirement for practice owners to also hold indemnity for treatment carried out by other practitioners, the majority of whom work as independent contractors.

“Dental Protection exists to protect the careers, reputations and financial security of our members. We remain committed to challenging the principle of these ofte unnecessary claims on behalf of members and the wider profession, but we also want to reassure practice principal members that they can request assistance and are as protected as they can be in a changing dental landscape.”

Chris Godeseth, customer and development director at MDDUS, said: “We know many practice owners have been concerned about the implications for them of the recent county court judgement in Breakingbury v Croad.”

“The automatic vicarious liability extension to our GDP Practice Owner membership grade will give them confidence they are fully supported.”

Len D’Cruz, Head of Indemnity at the British Dental Association said on the BDA News website “More legal cases will be brought and other judgements will be made. A clearer picture of where dentists stand regarding vicarious liability will continue to come out of these cases that don’t necessarily involve the provision of healthcare services but establish legal principles.”

“We recommend that all dentists take steps to mitigate their risk of vicarious liability.”

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