Sharp Increase in Six-Figure Settlements Paid out by DDU

Posted on: April 18th, 2016 by Editor

The Dental Defence Union (DDU) has released figures showing that over £1.1 million has been paid out in claims against its members over the last twelve months.

The DDU, the dentistry equivalent of the Medical Defence Union (MDU), provides both legal support and indemnity for its members when compensation claims for negligent dentistry are made against them. Recently, the DDU has claimed that there has been a notable increase in the number of claims being resolved for over £100,000 over the past decade.

In 2006, just two claims were resolved for over £100,000. However, since then, the DDU has paid out almost £5 million worth of six-figure settlements, with eleven of these being paid out in 2015 alone. Of these eleven, the highest was paid out for a failure to diagnose and subsequently treat periodontal disease, a condition that causes tooth loss.

The head of the DDU, John Makin, has expressed his concern that the sheer number of high value claims is making indemnity more difficult for members. “We are seeing disturbing rises in the cost of clinical negligence claims and a surge of claims exceeding £100,000 against our dental members,” he said.

Makin has attributed the rise in claims to rising expectations from patients, as well as increasingly prominent marketing by medical negligence solicitors. The figures show that the most common reason for a patient to file a medical negligence claim was because of unsatisfactory or excessive cosmetic treatments.

However, other commentators have disagreed with Makin. One, a contributor to dentistry.co.uk, has said that the comments made by the head of the DDU are misleading, and that patients should be able to expect a high level of care from dental practitioners. Additionally, he claims that should a treatment go wrong, the onus should be on the dentist to correct it – otherwise, the patient should be compensated.
The writer added that it was unjust for Makin to blame medical negligence solicitors for the trend, as he points out that – without the solicitors – negligent dentists would get away with their malpractice unscathed. He concluded by criticising the DDU, saying that if they admit liability earlier in negotiations, their legal costs would be much lower.


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