All dentists share a common goal - Patient welfare and optimal care. Referring your patient to another dentist, ensures that they get the best care as some situations may require greater understanding and expertise which may be outside your purview. Timely referrals are certainly beneficial and ethical rather than experimenting on patient or giving substandard care due to your own limitations.
A person is not expected to be highly skilled at every procedure within the legal definition of dentistry. Appropriate referrals are part of a complete, quality health care management. It should be the patient's welfare that should be the concern. Thus referrals form an integral part of the Dental Practice.
An appropriate reason for referral can be any one or a combination of the following:
A dentist should refer to another dentist with equal or greater skill or a specialist. A referral must be accompanied by a letter stating the following:
An accurate knowledge of the specialist will provide appropriate treatment of the patient.
The primary referring dentist and the specialist should discuss their working arrangements, the referral protocol to be followed including referral treatment period and return of patient to primary dentist. The cooperation of both with regards to sharing of patient radiographs, models, outline of treatment plan and patient progress reports should be encouraged.
Availability of the specialist with regards to emergency situations and mid treatment referrals should be discussed. The patient should be fully informed about the reasons for referral. He should be given the needed information about the specialist and asked to take the final decision.