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Managing Pediatric Dental Patients: Issues Raised by the Law and Changing Views of Proper Child Care

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The purpose of this paper was to examine legal issues regarding the management of pediatric dental patients and changing views of proper child care. Standards of care in pediatric dentistry are not static. They change in response to research, patterns of reimbursement, patient and parental expectations of reasonable care, and consensus among practitioners. The law pertaining to accountability for pediatric dental patient treatment largely reflects standards of care established by the pediatric dentistry profession. However, the law can also reflect changes in public expectations of reasonable care that can effectively outrun the discipline's efforts to reflect new knowledge or changing public concerns. A major impetus for considering the care of children in all settings has been the increasing recognition of suboptimal children's care, as well as concerns that children have either been abused or neglected in a number of settings. Too often, practices towards children have been untested and based only on the assumption that what is done is "for the child's own good." Pediatric dentists can respond to changing standards of reasonable care for pediatric dental patients, as expressed in legal decisions. They can also usefully consider how attention to child maltreatment has sensitized parents to be better consumers of services on their children's behalf. Rather than reacting only to public pressures for better means of behavior management, the challenge is to exceed expectations via new research and thoughtful anticipation of improvements that can be made.
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Keywords: CHILD MANAGEMENT; LEGAL ISSUES; PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY

Document Type: Conference Report

Publication date: 01 March 2004

More about this publication?
  • Pediatric Dentistry is the official publication of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. It is published bi-monthly and is internationally recognized as the leading journal in the area of pediatric dentistry. The journal promotes the practice, education and research specifically related to the specialty of pediatric dentistry. This peer-reviewed journal features scientific articles, case reports and abstracts of current pediatric dental research.
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