The Right of Refusal
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The patient did have the right to refuse from dental radiographs. Despite this, it is necessary to take them and allow a full check up of the patient’s dental health.
In the light of all the reasons for the requirement of the dental radiograph and the patients’ ten-year history along with the permission of the dentist, my dismissal of the patient after an absolute refusal to have a radiograph taken was justified.
It is understandable that the patient may have had reservations with regard to being exposed to X-rays, but the effect of the radiation from the radiograph is nothing more than radiation that one may be exposed to on a day-to-day basis.
Dental X-rays were necessary as they would have helped determine the dental health of the patient in the instances where an infection that lacked symptoms and was not visible to the naked eye might have been festering. If such a situation had arisen ten years ago we could have easily been accused of patient negligence. Based on the recommendations of the expert panel, the examination of bitewings is required to be carried out every 12- 36 month more so for a patient who had a long dental history as it was in the case with the patient that we had had for 10 years.
The dentistry standards of care require that a complete oral examination is carried out to make a diagnosis which could not have been carried out if the patient has refused to do the examination. The acceptance to carry out treatment would have been tantamount to negligence and even if the patient had signed a release of liability form, this would still have been unethical.