Does a dentist have an obligation to finish bridgework after 1 visit and no money or are they allowed to just leave a patient’s teeth in worse shape than before?

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Does a dentist have an obligation to finish bridgework after 1 visit and no money or are they allowed to just leave a patient’s teeth in worse shape than before?

Asked on May 22, 2012 under Malpractice Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A dentist is not a charity: if the patient does not or will not pay as required by the agreement(s) between the patient and dentist, the dentist is not obligated to continue treatment. It would be a breach of ethics and professional duty to do anything which risked the patient's life or health--the dentist would have to at least"stabilize" the patient--but the dentist could refuse to perform additional procedures otherwise.


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