Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Improving and safeguarding patient communication during dental pr.pdf (941.29 kB)

Improving and safeguarding patient communication during dental procedures using an original hand-signal system - The Helping Hand

Download (941.29 kB)
posted on 2019-11-22, 18:15 authored by Paul O'Dwyer

Aims This planned organisational development project aims to design and introduce an intuitive and visually appealing hand-signal communication system in the dental setting. This system is aimed to improve and safeguard patient communication, patient safety, patient dignity and add value.

Rationale During dental procedures verbal communication between patient and dentist is routinely absent. This can lead to misunderstanding, dissatisfaction, impaired consent and poor patient experience. The literature reflects the growing study of dental patient safety, quality in dentistry, patient dignity and communication. Central to all of these is the patient’s consent and shared-decision making ability. The Helping Hand System fulfils requirements in these areas and adds value to the patient journey.

Change Process Intuitive, unambiguous hand-signals, professionally illustrated and labelled in simple English and other languages were created. A stakeholder coalition was assembled. A pilot scheme including a training session, questionnaires and communication protocols was devised to educate the dental team for use of The Helping Hand utilising the Health Service Executive Change Model.

Evaluation An evaluation strategy encompassing innovation, testing and scale up with spread has been devised to capture and disseminate the results.

Results and Conclusion With regulatory change driven by expected legislation, this innovative project will fulfil impending requirements for patient communication and safety. The proposed evaluation and implementation of this planned project predicts high dentist and patient engagement via a pilot phase in August 2015. The balanced discussion of strengths and limitations will be further added to, along with recommendations informed by the pilot.


First Supervisor

Siobhan McCarthy


A dissertation submitted in part fulfilment of the degree of MSc in Healthcare Management, Institute of Leadership, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2015.

Published Citation

O'Dwyer P. Improving and safeguarding patient communication during dental procedures using an original hand-signal system - The Helping Hand [Masters dissertation]. Dublin: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; 2015.

Degree Name

  • MSc Healthcare Management

Date of award


Usage metrics

    Theses and Dissertations


    No categories selected



    Ref. manager