A recent ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that a medical provider performing any type of surgery has a non-delegable duty to obtain informed consent directly from its patients. This ruling, issued in the case of Megan and Robert Shinal v. Steven Toms, M.D., breaks from prior case law suggesting that it was sufficient for support staff to obtain the informed consent of a patient, and prohibits a physician (or dentist) from delegating his or her duty to obtain a patient’s informed consent prior to surgery.
Many patients turn to crowdsourced online review websites such as Healthgrades, Yelp, and Vitals to research and choose their dentists. While such websites can positively boost a dental practice’s online presence, they also pose a serious public relations risk as these sites allow users to instantly circulate their opinions—whether good or bad—to the general public. Poor reviews can be used as constructive feedback to improve the practice; however, inflammatory public statements can also turn off potential patients and send new business elsewhere.