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A Journal on Forensic Medicine
Minerva Medicolegale 2002 March;122(1): 25-36
Medicolegal considerations relating to professional liability. Damage due to weakening of mastication muscles
Durante C., Spalletta M.
Taking as their starting point the increased level of ligation regarding the professional liability of dentists and with reference to a particular case reported, the authors discuss the medicolegal problems concerning the medical conduct of professionals, with particular emphasis on ethical questions and professional competence. A case regarding professional liability arises in the event that the death of a patient or a state of disease or other consequence contemplated by Article 583 of the Criminal Code can be attributed to the practitioner's negligence, imprudence or inexperience, or failure to observe laws and regulations, orders and rules (Article 43 Criminal Code). In the case in question, the authors underline that professional behaviour was characterised by inexperience, imprudence, and negligence. Before proceeding to extract a tooth it is strongly advisable to take detailed X-rays correlated with a study of the anatomy of the oral cavity and an exhaustive medical and dental anamnesis. Professional liability may be called into question at any stage of a professional's actions, and it is therefore important to keep appropriate documentation of every phase of the diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. In order to allow the patient to give his free and informed consent to the proposed treatment, the dentist must explain the exact nature of the procedure, the motives that justify it and the expected and probable results of treatment. This information must be given in clear, simple but complete terms that are appropriate to the patient's social and cultural background.