Ethical dilemmas concerning the dental treatment of patients with hearing impairment

Raluca Diana Suhani, Mihai Flaviu Suhani, Alexandrina Muntean, Michaela Mesaros, Mindra Eugenia Badea

Abstract


Background

Research is increasing in dentistry but there is still scarce data regarding knowledge, attitude, behavior and ethics of dental professionals treating people with special needs. Ethical dental care for hearing impaired patients represents a thorny topic because obtaining optimal results is an ongoing challenge for dental care providers and also because of the widespread belief in some cultures that impaired persons are considered less of a priority. This study evaluated ethical dilemmas of dental practitioners who offer medical services for persons with special needs.

Methods

We conducted a cross-sectional quantitative study using questionnaires sent to 150 dental practitioners involved in providing dental care for hearing impaired patients. It contained 30 multiple choice questions regarding respect for the principles of ethics, emotional and communication issues, informed consent usage and its level of comprehension, the quality of treatment provided.

Results

Results showed that dentists are often confronted with an emotional dilemma when treating deaf people. Almost all dentists reported difficulties in communicating with hearing impaired patients. Most dentists questioned in our study hand out an informed consent, but this type of document is difficult for deaf patients to understand.

 26.05% of the dentists in this study admitted not always respecting doctor-patient confidentiality while 16.80% refused treating deaf patients at least once in their professional careers.

 86.55% of dental practitioners reported that the oral health status of the deaf is poorer than that of the general population.

Conclusions

While access to dental services has improved over the last decade for impaired patients, promoting good oral hygiene for high risk patient groups is subpar. Worldwide different treatment strategies are used in the dental treatment of this patient group.


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