UW School of Dentistry

Disclosure of Unanticipated Outcome

Subject: Disclosure of Unanticipated Outcomes
Effective Date: March 2006
Review Date: February 2006, August 2016


The School of Dentistry supports a patient’s right to make decisions about, and participate in, their treatment and plan of care. For patients to exercise this right they must be fully informed about all relevant outcomes in their care, including outcomes that are unanticipated.

General Policy

It is the policy of the School of Dentistry to provide patients with appropriate and necessary information about all outcomes of care, treatment, and services, including unanticipated outcomes. Patient events including negative care outcomes are formally reviewed as a part of the School’s Coordinated Quality Improvement Program (CQIP). An unanticipated outcome of care is an outcome that was not expected in advance as being a desired outcome of care, treatment or services, including those that:

  • Result in a significant change in the patient’s condition
  • Require a significant re-treatment
  • Create the need for unforeseen intervention
  • Result in permanent harm to the patient
  • Result in a hospitalization


The attending faculty has primary responsibility for ensuring that the unanticipated outcome is disclosed to the patient. Care providers will promptly notify their supervising faculty or department chair of any unanticipated outcome of care. involved providers will report the unanticipated outcome immediately in accordance with the School’s event reporting system  and will participate as requested in disclosure of the unanticipated outcome to the patient.

When multiple specialties or departments are involved in an unanticipated outcome, the attending faculty should contact the Associate Dean for Clinics to discuss the situation. The Associate Dean will involve Health Sciences Risk Management and and others as appropriate. Such events are reviewed at the CQIP Operations Committee in order to assess the root cause of the event and determine if a clinical process or policy should be modified in order to prevent a reoccurrence of the event.

When an unanticipated outcome occurs, disclosure of the outcome to the patient should take place as soon as practical after the unanticipated outcome is identified and in a manner the attending faculty believes represents high quality, compassionate patient care. The patient should be stabilized and/or able to comprehend the information, unless it is determined that the patient’s family/guardian should be informed. The responsible care providers and/or Patient Relations staff will provide ongoing information to the patient/guardian as necessary or as it becomes available.

Disclosure should take place in a setting that supports the patient’s right to information, dignity and confidentiality. Health Sciences Risk Management along with the Patient Relations team is available to help any provider prepare for a disclosure discussion with a patient and to provide resource material and support.

Cross References:

  • School of Dentistry Informed Consent Policy
  • School of Dentistry Patient Rights & Responsibilities Brochure
  • Employee Assistance Program

Dean of UW SOD:

Joel Berg, Dean of the UW School of Dentistry