Edition V15N02 | Year 2010 | Editorial Article | Pages 105 to 112
Objective: The purpose of this study was to acquire knowledge about the key legal aspects of orthodontic practice, which may be used as important defense tools in the event of ethical and/ or legal actions. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted with dentists in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais State, Brazil, by means of a specific instrument (questionnaire) addressing the ethical and legal disputes that involve the orthodontic specialty. Participants were asked to fill out the following questionnaire fields: personal identification, academic background, orthodontic accessories, oral hygiene, treatment plan, service provision, orthodontic documentation, drug prescription and forms of communication with patients, among others. Results: A total of 237 orthodontists, all members of the Regional Council of Dentistry, Minas Gerais State (CRO-MG) and living in Belo Horizonte, were given the data collection instrument. Out of this total, 69 (29.11%) answered and returned the questionnaires. Of the 69 respondents, 57.97% were male and 42.03% female. It was found that 52.17% of these professionals graduated from Higher Education Institutions (ISEs). It was observed that 34.78% of these orthodontists completed specialization between 5 and 10 years after graduation. Most professionals (94.2%) enter into their medical records information about any damage caused to the orthodontic accessories used by their patients and 53.62% of the orthodontists keep their patients orthodontic documentation on file throughout their active professional life. Conclusions: This study revealed that some analysis parameters were very satisfactory, such as: the availability of service provision contract models, communication with patients and/or their lawful guardians in case of abandonment of treatment, orthodontic documentation files and the entering into the dental records of information concerning the breakage of and damage to orthodontic accessories. However, some practices have yet to be adopted, such as: patient signature should be collected in the event of damage to orthodontic accessories and copies of drug prescriptions and certificates should be kept on file.