The advice and principles outlined in these papers apply just as much to dentistry as to medicine. Patients are asking for and should be provided with a greater amount of information from their practitioners regarding the treatment they are undergoing, likely treatment outcomes and possible complications.

The most frequent pathology tests requested by dentists for their patients are histopathology of soft tissue lesions following biopsy or excision; histopathology of lesions in or involving bone; and blood tests. Blood tests are often related to coagulation either prior to surgery or following an unexpected episode of bleeding after surgery. In these cases and in fact whenever pathology tests are performed, patients expect to be informed of the results, either by telephone or at a follow-up appointment. In either event, arrangements should be made to advise patients of pathology results. Recommendations in the editorials on clinical investigations are both practical and sound, and apply to dentists and their patients.

In addition to the requirement for information about treatment, patients are also entitled to information about drugs prescribed for them. Consumer product information (CPI) has been prepared for a number of drugs used in dentistry. As CPI becomes available, when dentists administer or provide medication (including local anaesthetics), they will be required to make CPI available to their patients.

R.G. Woods

Australian Dental Association