Patients may need to be referred for several reasons. Any one or combinations of the following situations or conditions may provide the Dentist with appropriate rationale for referring a patient. Some of these situations include but are not limited to:
Clear and effective communication between all parties is essential in the referral process. The following guidelines are intended to clarify the various elements and responsibilities needed to provide the referred patient with the required level of professional care.
The Alberta Dental Association Code of Ethics, under a "Dentists' Responsibility to Patientsâ€, Article A4: Competence, Consultation and Referral states: â€œA dentist shall provide assessment and/or treatment for a patient only when currently competent to do so by reason of his or her education and training, experience, or demonstrated continued competence; otherwise the dentist should consult with another dentist or dental specialist with the appropriate competencies and/or refer the patient to an appropriate care provider for assessment and/or treatment.
In those cases warranting it, timely and appropriate referral is an ethical imperative which fulfills a professional duty to a patient. Failure to inform a patient of the need for consultation and/or referral could place the dentist in breech of the Code of Ethics.
The referring Dentist should convey, in advance, all information which will assist the Dental Specialist in providing a complete consultation service to the patient. This includes:
Prior to the consultation, the Dental Specialist's office should provide the patient with details of the appointment time, date and the office location.
After the consultation, the Dental Specialist should provide the patient with information adequate to make an informed decision including: