Is “Failure to treat” a Treatment failure?


  • Leanne Sykes Head of Department of Prosthodontics, University of Pretoria
  • Avish Jagathpal Private practitioner and consultant Department of Prosthodontics, University of Pretoria
  • Charles Bradfield Registrar Department of Prosthodontics, University of Pretoria
  • Michael Cronje Final year dental student, University of Pretoria





Over-servicing in dentistry has been widely reported on and censured due to the potential physical, social and financial harms it can cause a patient. In contrast, under-treatment is less often noticed or raised as a concern as it seldom presents with overt signs of carelessness or disregard. In addition, it is usually not accompanied by any time or financial burdens, thus patients rarely complain about it. While some practitioners may argue that failure to treat is a form of negligence, this paper will explore if, and when it could be
justified. While practitioners may never reach a consensus agreement, the ultimate message is that all treatment should be patient centred and should only commence following their educated, considered, autonomous, and voluntary consent.


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How to Cite

Sykes, L., Jagathpal, A. ., Bradfield, C., & Cronje, M. . (2021). Is “Failure to treat” a Treatment failure?. South African Dental Journal, 76(09), 568–570.