All the bright white smiles that you see around you wouldn’t exist if dentistry wasn’t a well-established field. Imagine a world where crooked teeth would be the norm. So next time you look in a mirror and appreciate your smile, be sure to be thankful to your dentist.
Other than beautification, dentists basically keep you alive by keeping your teeth healthy and in the right condition. Toothache and bad teeth can make eating super difficult. The pain is unbearable, and without prompt action, consequences can be serious. With all that said, dentistry is one thing where the lines of professional and ethical boundaries can go bleak.
That’s why organisations like the General Dental Council (GDC) are in place to ensure that the practice is always under ethical boundaries. GDC is there for the best public interest. They do so by taking in the complaints against the dentists, filtering out the legit ones from the whining and then taking necessary actions where required.
This article shall take an extensive look at GDC investigations.
There’s a certain type of complaint that comes under the domain of GDC. This means that not all cases are relevant to the organisation. Some of them include mediation of civil disputes, refunds, or compensation; that’s not what GDC looks after.
What the organisation primarily looks for is that the dental professional isn’t involved in any sort of misconduct, criminal activity or is fit to work or not. There are instances where the professional may not be in the right space physically or mentally, and that can keep them from performing at their optimal level. This, however, could get detrimental for the patient and is something that GDC looks after.
Cases that don’t fall under the domain are referred to the relevant departments or authorities.
Now that you have an idea about GDC and its work, let’s look at the procedure that happens when someone decides to proceed with a GDC investigation. Here’s an insight for you to better understand the GDC investigation process.
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This part is to help you easily understand whenever a concern is raised, GDC then works systematically to address it and appropriately get it sorted. This is done in the four procedures that are explained below:
Whenever a concern or a complaint is raised, the GDC first looks at it to see if it is the right organisation to deal with it. As mentioned above, not all concerns are for the GDC to deal with. So initially, a team reviews the concern and decides whether it falls in the organisation’s domain or not.
If it does, then a case is made and moves on to the next stage. If the concern isn’t relevant to GDC, then it’s turned down, and proper justification is given to the parties in question as to why the case can’t proceed.
Once the case moves past the initial assessment and GDC decides that it’s relevant to them, it is then moved on to the next step. This is where the relevant material is gathered to see if the raised concern is legit and should proceed to the next stage.
To make the casework, GDC takes the following steps:
Once all the relevant material is gathered and reviewed, it is then decided whether the concern is worthy of a deeper look or not. Whenever a case passes the GDC threshold for investigation, it progresses to the next step. Otherwise, the review committee can close the concern without any further actions.
In this step, no decision is taken against the allegation. This step is just there to filter out cases. Here the committee moves on with the ones that require a closer look and close the ones that they deem unworthy of further investigation.
Once the case trickles down from step two to this one, it moves closer to the conclusion. This is where the examiners decide upon the relevant trajectory of the concern raised. Not all concerns and complaints are equal. The relevant course of action is decided here.
If the case requires a public inquiry, then it is rolled out to the next step, which shall be discussed after this one.
For concerns that are less severe or not much concerning, the practitioner can get a warning letter or a letter of advice. This way, they can avoid negligence the next time. Some concerns are even let go without any action.
The ones that require even detailed examination are sent to the practice committees.
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The cases that are dealt with by the case examiners become eligible for a public inquiry and are forwarded here. There are 3 practice committees, and each one deals with the concerns relevant to them. They are named as:
In these public hearings, the relevant committees decide upon the relevant actions for the concerns. Here, the committee analyses how the concern should impact the professional’s practice. For the most severe cases, the professional may even get their name off the register, which means that they can’t practice further. The professional can, however, challenges the decision.
Those looking to find answers to how long does a GDC investigation take should know that the investigations are made as quickly as possible. In any case that doesn’t proceed to case examiners, GDC aims to close that one within four months from the date the concern was raised.
Any case that proceeds to the third step is aimed to be closed within 6 months from the date the concern was raised.
What happens when a dentist is under investigation?
Whenever a dentist or a dental professional is under investigation, the IOC gets to decide what happens to their practice. Not all dentists are put up with serious allegations, and not all have the concerns that affect their practice.
IOC- Interim Orders Committee gets to decide whether interim conditions need to be imposed or the professional should be suspended. If the IOC finds nothing concerning, then they can even let the concern be resolved with its due course. The IOC can take the decision at any stage after the concern is raised.
GDC was formed with the aim to keep dental practices clean and effective. It takes the concerns seriously and shouldn’t be neglected by the professionals. In extreme situations, the professionals can get their licenses revoked as well.
Knowing this, many professionals may be curious and would want to know how they can deal with GDC complaints?
Well, if you are going through a GDC complaint, then the most important thing is to stay put together. These times can be tough, and even though you may not be at fault, the process can be stressful and lay a deep impact upon the professional. You can seek emotional support as well if that’s what can help you get through the tough times.
Those who are looking to avoid GDC interactions altogether should sign up for probity and ethics courses. These courses are designed to serve as a refresher to know the professional ethics of dental professionals. Many dentists and professionals have served the field for decades, and it’s easy to forget about some professional boundaries. But overstepping their boundaries can get them in trouble with GDC.
To know more about our courses and offerings, visit our website and contact us.
Course: How to Deal with a Complaint or Investigation
Dental professionals are making sincere efforts to keep this world a bright and happy place. However, just like any other profession, misconduct and malpractices can happen here as well. GDC ensures that the practices are safest for the patients and brings the most benefits.
As a professional, if you want to know the right ethical and professional boundaries, you can take probity and ethics courses. If you are in hospital management and want your teams to go through the courses, then you can opt for that as well. Get to us to know more and book the courses