When you look at a contract that you sign for orthodontic treatment, the term “unforeseeable consequences” is always in there, and usually is preceded by telling you that the dentistry and the dentist in particular is not responsible for them. This is quite disturbing, and is an immediate turnoff for many patients, as the term is waaay too mysterious, especially for a treatment that will leave you with a couple of thousand quid less by the time visible results start to show. What is covered by unforeseen consequences? What isn’t? What does this term mean, and how worried should we be?
The wonderful world of medical science
Ever notice how incredibly different we as human beings are? Ever wonder how someone much taller or much shorter than you thinks, walks, eats, digests, etc? Because no two human bodies are alike (not even the bodies of identical twins), especially when it comes to the internal organs and the viscera, it should come as no surprise that a lot of the times, doctors do not know what kind of things may happen. Just because the last 2500 patients did not have a negative reaction to as procedure or medication, does that mean that the 2501th patient will also not have one? In absolute terms, no it does not, but it is highly likely that nothing will be wrong, unless the patient is “special” and has a system that is wildly different from the first 2500 people, or has some other anatomical anomaly, disease or some condition that is interfering with the procedure or medication.
This is because unlike, physics, chemistry, taxonomy and geology, medical science does not have rules etched in stone that are universally true, as medical science is the science of physical bodies, which are so subject to change and can vary so greatly from individual to individual.
Orthodontic treatment is built on factual knowledge that has been amassed for the past two hundred years, which in turn is based on the knowledge gathered for the thousands of years of human history. But even so, as everybody is unique, something unexpected may happen. The doctor may apply their best knowledge and prescribe orthodontics as a measure and still something unforeseen may go wrong. The dentist should not be held liable as long as they did everything according to the best medical knowledge we have today. And that is why there is usually an unforeseen consequences clause in every patient-doctor agreement.