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From a pig’s head to chocolates: What gifts dentists receive

(Photograph: Everything Possible/Shutterstock)

Thu. 15 December 2016


LONDON, UK: A pig’s head or a pheasant are among the more unusual gifts that dentists in the UK received from their patients last year. More common options, however, were chocolates, other edible gifts and alcohol, a survey conducted by the Dental Defence Union (DDU) on the upcoming holiday season has found.

From the 129 respondents, more than one third claimed to have received at least one gift from a patient over the past 12 months. Four dentists were showered with presents, as each received more than 15 gifts in 2016.

The survey, conducted among DDU members, tried to find out what and how often dentists receive gifts and whether certain gifts ever raised ethical concerns. According to the survey, the majority of respondents had no concerns about their patients’ motivations for gifting.

“General Dental Council guidelines state that dental professionals must refuse any gifts, payments or hospitality if accepting them could affect, or could appear to affect, their professional judgement,” DDU dento-legal adviser, David Lauder explained. “Difficulties can arise when the patient's motive for gift giving might be unclear or misconstrued, or when the gift is expensive.”

“It may be advisable to ensure the patient understands their dental care would not be affected in any way by the gift. You may sometimes want to keep a record of these conversations, any correspondence relating to the matter and the reasons for accepting the gift, if you decide to do so,” he added.

The survey was conducted among members of the DDU, of which two thirds were dentists and one third were other dental professionals.

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