14 Aug 2012

Dentists 'pressured' woman into expensive treatment

12:45 pm on 14 August 2012

A complaint by a woman who says she was pushed into having expensive dental treatments after being told her face was about to collapse has been upheld.

Health and Disability deputy commissioner Theo Baker has found the two dentists involved breached the patient's rights by failing to get informed consent.

The patient says she was shocked when the dentist told her the lower third of her face would shrink without urgent treatment to crown five teeth.

The diagnosis was confirmed by the other dentist at the practice, and the woman was quoted $7000. The final bill for six crowns came to $9180.

In a decision released on Monday Ms Baker says the dentists failed to adequately inform the patient of her treatment options and also neglected to make models of her teeth, which led to the temporary crowns disintegrating.

The Dental Council says the pair could face disciplinary action.

Shop around, says Consumer NZ

Consumer New Zealand says people concerned about the cost of their dental treatment should shop around.

Spokesperson David Naulls says dental patients are entitled to full and accurate quotes.

He says the average cost of common procedures can be compared on the Dental Association's website.

No justification, says association

The Dental Association says there's no justification for dentists failing to get informed consent from patients before starting expensive treatment.

Executive director David Crum says it's only fair that patients are given a full estimate of the costs of any proposed treatment and given adequate time to consider it.

Dr Crum says getting informed consent is mandatory for dentists.