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Dental patients given increased protection from Europe-wide alert system

The newly implemented European Alert Mechanism covers the whole European Economic Area (EEA) and gives regulators the power to identify dental professionals who have been banned from practising to their European counterparts.

The system, which came into effect on 18 January, ensures that within three days of a dental care professional (DCP) being prohibited, suspended or restricted from practicing a Europe wide alert is issued.

Leading oral health charity, the British Dental Health Foundation, is hailing the implementation as a decisive move towards giving patients greater protection from unsafe dental treatments.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, commented: “We are delighted that this system has come into effect, it gives patients much greater visibility and security when it comes to their oral health.

“It also demonstrates that DCP’s who are practicing unsafe treatments will not be allowed to put further patients at risk if they choose to move to another European country.

“This will hopefully lead to an improvement in standards of dental practice Europe-wide and more public trust in dentistry.”

The system means that regulators must, as a minimum, identify restricted DCP’s by issuing their name, date and place of birth to help their counterparts detect if that person is practicing in their country.

An alert must also state the period that the restriction applies for and the date of the decision.

Although the alert does not contain any background information or justification of the restriction concerned regulators can request further information.

“An increasing trend we are seeing is that of ‘dental tourism’ and with it there are many potential pitfalls. Patients go into it facing huge risks when it comes to the treatment they receive as they do not know if it is safe, the credentials of the DCP are correct or what their rights are if it something goes wrong,” added Dr Carter.

“Although ‘dental tourism’ is not advised this system may give people a little bit more protection, although some countries still do not h e any formal system of registration for dentists.

“As a charity committed to helping provide better oral health for all we believe mechanisms such as this make for a much more transparent profession and greater patient protection.