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Article: Volume 41 Number 1 Page 46 - January/February 2014

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  Dent Update 2014; 41: 46-48

Law and Ethics:  How Many of our Patients can Really Give Consent? − A Perspective on the Relevance of the Mental Capacity Act to Dentistry

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Abstract: The different ways that clinicians perceive adult patients with dental phobia is varied and diverse. From treating the dental phobia as a separate illness to dismissing it as a neurosis, sometimes little consequence is attached to its existence. True dental phobia is classed as a psychological illness and therefore comes under the remit and guidance of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Failure to assess the impact of dental phobia upon an individual’s capacity to consent could lead to allegations of negligence or even assault.

Clinical relevance: This paper highlights the importance of considering the capacity to consent of some of the most vulnerable dental patients and how we can better protect both their rights in the law and their dignity.

Author notes: Alexander C L Holden, BDS, HPD ACIArb, MJDF, RCS(Eng), General Dental Practitioner, Rotherham and Barnsley and Neil L Holden, MA(CANTAB), MBBS, FRCP FRCPsych, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK.

Objective: To understand the importance of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to the treatment of dental phobia in adult patients.