Dealing with non-compliant, abusive or aggressive patients in dental practice
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There is increasing concern as to how health professionals respond to patients who are considered non-compliant, abusive or difficult. What are their responsibilities to the patient? What are their responsibilities to other patients and staff? Can the patient be refused treatment? What are the responsibilities that providers, as employers, have in relation to staff who might be treating violent or non-compliant patients? What are the competing rights and responsibilities of patients and of the dental provider? Are the above questions influenced by the threat posed by the patient to the safety of staff and other patients? There are many instances in daily practice where patient behaviour, while being difficult and emotive, is not necessarily wrong or inappropriate in the context of the service being provided and the circumstances relating to their particular dental condition. This paper discusses issues relating to circumstances where serious issues arise regarding the behaviour of persons receiving dental treatment in the context where such behaviour is clearly inappropriate, aggressive or violent.