Even though traumatic injuries account for only 10% of disabling events effecting dental practitioners,  they still can have a disastrous effect.  We know that medical illnesses account for 90% of dental disabilities and injuries are less likely to lead to long-term disability. This doesn’t relieve our concern over car accidents, which can have serious effects on your life and dental practice.

The long-term effects of an accidental injury are usually readily apparent. A missing limb, a paralyzing back injury, and traumatic loss of vision are a few examples. You will immediately know that your ability to practice is endangered.  Fortunately injuries account for only small percentage of long term disability scenarios.  Many injuries are readily recoverable.  A broken leg, a cut hand, or burned arm; all can heal with the proper care given an adequate healing time.

The danger with some injuries is that the long-term effects are not readily apparent. These include traumatic spine/neck injuries, vision or hearing injuries, and neurologic injuries. All have the potential to worsen over time. This contrasts with medical illnesses which often have somewhat predictable courses. The temptation is to continue to work and adjust to the injury. This is an acceptable alternative, but only as long as you continually monitor your condition.  Failure to be vigilant can lead to a delayed disability that may or may not be covered by your disability policy.   As we have stated previously, be cautious when evaluating your capabilities and avoid working if you potentially place either your patients or yourself at risk.

The progressive nature of some injuries is especially important to dentists. Our practices depend on performance of intricate and meticulous work in a difficult and challenging environment.   Even a small decrease in our performance or capability due to an injury can have catastrophic effects on a dental practice.  Keeping up with your rehabilitation plan, following your healthcare professionals directions, and maintaining a detailed log on your condition/treatment are all smart decisions to protect yourself and survive.

The good news is that you will likely recover from most injuries and be able to return to work full-time and independently. You will need to go through rehabilitation and recovery care, but in the end you will likely be fine. Always be on the lookout for delayed effects of traumatic injuries.  Since your are a dentist, even subtle changes in your physical condition may require you to make some difficult decisions.   The areas that often involve delayed problems include neurologic changes, limitation of movement, and changes in vision. All are particularly troublesome.   Be on the alert and have any progressive or acute changes evaluated promptly.

Disability insurance can treat accidental disability different from medical illness disability. Research this before you purchase a policy, and read your policy carefully if you are even considering filing a claim.   See the video below to get some ideas on the challenges out there.,

As we strive to provide dentists with the resources and support they need after they encountering disabling illnesses and accidents, we alway want to stress the fact that you are not alone.   Help is out there in the form of your dental peers/friends and family.   All offer a solid basis of support and all you have to do is ask.   Look to our prior post on the ten steps to take when encountering a disability.TEN STEPS TO SURVIVE DISABILITY .  We are sure you will make smart and timely decisions regarding your future.   The dentists that have preceded you have all made mistakes and survived. Use their experience to strengthen your response to tragedy and win. YES WIN, WE WILL NOT TOLERATE A LOSER, WE KNOW HOW TO FIGHT BACK AND SURVIVE.




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