Referrals – practitioner, patient & specialist obligations
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The profession of dentistry has both benevolent and protective aspects with regards to duty of care to patients, to always try to do the best for the patients and to fulfill the principle of non-maleficence –to do no harm. This principle expresses the concept that professionals have a duty to protect the patient from harm. Under this principle, the dentist’s primary obligations include keeping knowledge and skills current, knowing one’s own limitations and when to refer to a specialist or other professional. All dentists, whether generalists or specialists, have both legal and ethical responsibilities to their patients – legally they need to exercise reasonable skill and care and ethically they are obligated to always put the best interests of the patients first (above personal or professional interests) and to carry out treatment to the standard of care set by the profession.