The DCS annual report reveals that the majority of complaints by patients in 2020 related to perceived failure of treatment (85 per cent) with most arising from treatment with removable orthodontic appliances. Of concern to Asif is that a case study in the report reveals the patient did not know the full name of the clinician who wrote their treatment plan. This meant that they had no-one to turn to with their concerns or questions about their treatment.
The case study described how following treatment, the patient complained to the company who provided the aligners because they could see no difference in their teeth. Initially the company would only offer another course of treatment involving a second finance plan. Fortunately, the DCS intervened and the company cancelled the finance agreement with the patient who declined a second course of "remote" orthodontic treatment.
Asif said, "Several things about this case study concern me. I am shocked that the company initially declined to share the name of the clinician who provided the treatment plan. Without the intervention of the DCS, the patient would not have had a refund and their credit rating might have been jeopardised due to the finance agreement not being cancelled. This highlights the risk of an arrangement with an online company - as opposed to with an individual clinician or practice."
In its statement, the GDC stresses that patients must know the full name of the dental professional responsible for their treatment and be able to make direct contact with that person if they should need to.
About 'remote orthodontics', Asif also said, "I am glad that the GDC and the DCS have highlighted the questions patients need to ask before they order aligners online. For all patients, knowing the name of your clinician should be a right. Communication between clinician and patient is critical to the provision of orthodontics and must not be lost in the rush to embrace innovation and remote technology."