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Is Your Consent Process Full of BARF?

No matter where you in the U.S. you practice dentistry, there are laws or rules that require you to obtain written, informed consent for treatment from your patients....which is express permission to do what your patients hire you to do for them. Gone are the days when a patients’ voluntary presence in your dental office, in your dental chair, is sufficient as ‘consent’ for treatment.

Many states have specific requirements about the consent process, which culminates in a signed, written form. We’ll discuss the consent process later. For now, we’ll talk about consent forms.

Consent forms should contain B.A.R.F. or Benefits, Alternative Treatments, Risks and Complications and Fees (of financial information).

Consent forms should include information on the Benefits of having the recommended treatment.

You should present all reasonable Alternatives for the patient independent of what their insurance carrier will cover, which should never be your primary concern (after all you, not your patient’s insurance carrier, are licensed to practice dentistry).

You need to inform your patients of reasonably anticipated Risks or complications of the recommended treatment(s). You are not expected to communicate every possible risk or complication.

Fee information does not necessarily need to be on the consent form, but it must be clearly communicated to your patients in writing (unless your patient cannot read then you must find a suitable alternative, such as reading BARF information to them in front of a witness or recorded). Be sure to check your state’s laws before recording conversations. The treatment plan is a great tool to help you to fulfill this requirement. Have your patients sign their accepted treatment plans.

Lastly, give your patients a copy of everything they sign.

If you want to know MY secrets for helping you build a successful compliance program I invite you to give us a trial run. Get your Complimentary Phone Consultation. Click here to schedule a time to talk about consent. 

Be well. Do good. Be blessed.

About the Author

A former Law Enforcement Officer/ Dental Board investigator, Duane Tinker is the CEO of Dental Compliance Specialists. Mr. Tinker provides compliance consulting, auditing and training services for dentists and Dental Service Organizations on compliance risks including OSHA, HIPAA, Dental Board rules/ regulations, state radiology rules, DEA and state drug regulations, and Medicaid. Mr. Tinker is a frequent speaker for dental societies and study clubs. He also hosts a podcast called Talking with the Toothcop. Mr. Tinker can be reached by calling (817) 755-0035 or through his company’s website DentalCompliance.com.


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