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By Wesleyan

Managing operational risks in your dental practice

5 min
Female dentist in black scrubs wearing mask reaching for tools with patient in dental chair

Managing a dental practice is not just about providing quality care for patients. In fact, a big part of practice-life is about ensuring the well-being of your staff, compliance with employment laws and regulatory guidance.

No matter how diligent you are as a practice manager or a principal, HR-related challenges will always exist. Risks can include potential claims of unfair treatment or wrongful dismissal by colleagues.

To guard against these issues while maintaining a thriving practice, you will need to adopt tailored strategies for prevention, risk mitigation and protection.

Preventing issues

You may be able to stop incidents before they even arise in your dental practice, by using some of the suggestions below.

Tailored HR policies

When prevention is better than cure, having comprehensive HR policies tailored to the needs and requirements of a dental practice can help to keep your staff in check, so that they can focus on delivering the best service for patients.

HR policies should set out what’s expected of your staff. This includes inclusion and diversity, performance management and grievance policies. In addition to patient care policies for confidentiality, professional conduct, infection control protocols, and compliance with healthcare regulations.

Staff training and competence

By investing in training for your staff, you can enhance their skills, stay current with industry trends, and ultimately provide better care for your patients.

A commitment to professional growth demonstrates your practice's dedication to excellence and continuous improvement. Regular training sessions for all staff members, like safeguarding children, dealing with vulnerable people, and managing data will ensure you have a team of staff that meet legal and regulatory expectations.

Encourage staff to engage in ongoing CPD to stay up to date with the latest advancements in dentistry, technology, and patient care practices.

Effective communication

This is key for fostering a culture of open communication between management and staff to address concerns and prevent misunderstandings. Regular team meetings, suggestion boxes, and anonymous reporting mechanisms can facilitate feedback and ensure that issues are addressed promptly.

Reinforce the importance of ethical behaviour and professionalism in all interactions with patients and colleagues. Staff should understand their obligations under relevant professional codes of conduct and regulations.

Documentation practices

Maintain meticulous documentation especially HR-related activities, including employee performance evaluations, training sessions, and disciplinary actions. Detailed records serve as evidence of compliance with policies and can support the practice's defence in case of litigation.

Risk mitigation

To mitigate a range of employee and HR risks, you might decide to use some of the procedures below.

Early conflict resolution

Addressing employee concerns and conflicts proactively through informal mediation or peer review processes will significantly reduce the risk of disputes.

Performance management support

Provide ongoing feedback and support to staff members to address performance issues early and prevent grievances. Offering professional development opportunities and coaching sessions can help mitigate the risk of claims related to unfair treatment or termination.

Compliance audits

Conduct regular audits of HR practices to ensure compliance with employment laws, healthcare regulations, and industry standards. Identifying and addressing compliance gaps proactively reduces the likelihood of litigation arising from regulatory violations.


Despite your best efforts, we know that sometimes issues can still arise. You can purchase protection to cover your specific needs as a dental practice manager for added peace of mind. We’ve provided a short break down below of the top areas to consider when buying insurance.


Policies are available to cover legal expenses, employment practices liability insurance and employers’ liability insurance. These policies can help to mitigate the financial risks associated with legal disputes, employment-related claims, and workplace injuries, ensuring that businesses have the necessary resources to navigate legal challenges and protect their business interests.

An experienced insurance broker can provide further detail on the risks and protection available. They can also ensure that you have dental practice insurance in place, that will cover:

  • Legal expenses: Providing protection against the costs associated with legal disputes and proceedings, such as court fees, lawyer's fees, and other legal expenses. This protection is usually limited to a maximum of £100,000 and does not always cover compensatory awards.
  • Employment Practices Liability (EPL): Protects businesses against claims made by employees alleging wrongful employment practices, such as discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation or even partnership expulsions.
  • EPL insurance is crucial because employment-related lawsuits can be costly, time-consuming, and damaging to a company's reputation. Limits can be anything from £100,000. This insurance will cover defence costs, but unlike legal expenses, it will also cover compensatory awards and damages to the employee.
  • While EPL can be covered under a management liability policy, most dental practices do not have this type of policy in place. It’s worth speaking to broker to ensure you have adequate cover in place.
  • Employers' Liability Insurance, is a legal requirement, providing cover up to £10million. This type of cover provides protection for businesses against claims made by employees for work-related injuries or illnesses that are not covered by workers' compensation. This should be covered under the practice insurance.

Continuous improvement

Stay informed about changes in employment laws, healthcare regulations, and industry best practices to adapt HR policies and procedures accordingly.

Proactive HR management is essential for navigating the complexities of a dental practice environment and minimising the risk of litigation. By implementing tailored strategies for prevention, mitigation, and protection, practices can ensure compliance with regulations, while maintaining a positive workplace culture conducive to staff satisfaction and patient care excellence.

As a broker, Wesleyan Financial Services Ltd offer insurance products from a number of insurers. A Specialist Financial Adviser from Wesleyan Financial Services will be happy to discuss dental practice and general business protection policies that can meet your needs.

Please note that limits, exclusions and charges do apply. Full terms and conditions of the policy and cover, including benefits and exclusions, will be provided when you get a quote. Risk must be acceptable to underwriters at normal terms.

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