Dental checklist of bad practice has patient care at its heart

Dental experts have drawn up a definitive list of scenarios that patients should never face in a bid to ensure excellent patient care worldwide.

The checklist—which includes failing to note patients' allergies and not screening for mouth cancers during check-ups—is the first international agreement of its type in dentistry. The experts say it could be a major step forward in improving patient wellbeing across the globe.

Monitoring these events will allow clinicians to quickly identify serious errors in procedure and could enable health authorities to monitor dentists' performance, researchers say.

The consensus refers to so-called never events—failures so severe that they should not happen under any circumstances when correct procedures are followed.

Never events for doctors—such as performing surgery on the wrong part of the body or leaving surgical instruments in a patient after an operation—are well-established in medicine.

Until now, the same practice has not been widely used in dentistry, with safety guidelines varying throughout the world.Using electronic questionnaires, researchers led by the University of Edinburgh engaged an international panel of experts to develop a detailed list of never events for dentists.