Making a decision on whether to refer a patient can be one of the biggest tests of your judgement. You will know the basic rule that you should refer if you do not have the necessary facilities, experience or expertise to provide the particular care that the patient needs. To assess this requires careful judgement on your part.
Explaining the situation to the patient and getting their consent are important. They need to know your diagnosis, the treatment options available and why you feel it is better to refer them. Discuss who you are referring them to, it may be through the NHS to another practitioner or a hospital or it may be to a private practice. And reassure them that the transfer of personal and clinical information that accompanies the referral will be done confidentially.
You should send to the accepting dentist or hospital details of the reason for the referral, the oral condition of the patient, and, if relevant, details of any treatment that has been, or will be, provided by you. Sending information by a secure method, consider using registered post or encrypted email, to ensure patient confidentiality is vital. For NHS referrals details of any NHS fees paid by the patient should also be included. Referring dentists should indicate on the NHS forms those aspects of the treatment that are being carried out on referral.
We interviewed Jenny Jones, who has qualified
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