One occurrence that is more common in dentistry than in other medical professions is when a dental patient requests a refund.

Over the course of years of practice, a dentist may encounter an unsatisfied patient who requests a refund because of a cosmetic concern, discomfort, pain or another reason. Before granting that request, dentists should be aware of the potential consequences of that action.

It’s important for dentists to know that there may be an issue with their MLMIC or other professional liability insurance if they offer a refund. There are provisions in the MLMIC policy that prevent dentists from taking an action that hurts a potential defense in the case of future litigation. Offering a refund could look like an admission of liability and would limit the dentists’ ability to draw on the MLMIC policy if necessary.

However, a dentist may desire or feel obligated to offer a refund, and, in that case, there is a way to do so that will limit damage to future litigation.

If the dentist does decide to offer a refund, it’s important that the dental patient signs a general release. That release should:

  • Identify the patient by name and address of residence
  • State that the refund is not an admission of liability

The release can also include a nonpublication provision for social media.

MLMIC policyholders can contact a team of risk management professionals 24/7 at no additional cost by calling (844) 667-5291 or emailing For more information related to risk management, visit the MLMIC Dental blogThe Scope: Dental EditionDental Impressions and our Twitter and LinkedIn pages.