While you are busy with patients, CDA is working behind the scenes to provide you with resources to protect both your practice and profession.
CDA President James Stephens, DDS, urges members to vote no on Proposition 46 in the November 4 general election. The primary goal of Proposition 46, sponsored by trial lawyers, is to make malpractice lawsuits against dentists and other health care providers more lucrative, which will significantly increase liability insurance costs, the volume of litigation and patients' health care costs.
There are four more opportunities in California this year to attend TDIC’s Risk Management seminar Beyond the Science: Patient emotions in dentistry. Fear, as well as anxiety and worry, may not be easily identified by the dental practitioner, which can cause big legal issues down the road. This seminar will teach attendees how to correctly handle patients who exhibit these emotions so they can keep their practice and their patients safe.
The morning meeting for a dentist and their team helps outline the patient care for the day, but it also can serve as a good time to remind staff about the importance of protecting patient information. A CDA Presents lecturer, and information security expert, lays out a list of topics dentists can discuss with their staff to make sure the practice remains HIPAA compliant.
Proposition 46 and the threat it poses to health care providers and the patients they serve was the topic of a timely lecture at CDA Presents in San Francisco. With the Nov. 4 election drawing closer, “MICRA: What Dentists Need to Know About the Threat to Malpractice Protection” outlined how Proposition 46 would raise the cap on noneconomic damages that would result in large payouts to trial lawyers, who are behind the ballot measure that also calls for physician drug testing and a statewide prescription database that jeopardizes patient privacy.
Now is an ideal time for dentists to re-evaluate insurance coverage, which can have huge implications on the lives of their families and their ability to retire. Life Happens, a nonprofit organization formed in 1994, has dubbed September Life Insurance Awareness Month. The associated awareness campaign is intended to help consumers understand life, disability, long-term care and health insurance.
Attendees of CDA Presents The Art and Science of Dentistry in San Francisco will have an opportunity to take advantage of several TDIC offerings. There will be four opportunities to attend TDIC’s new Risk Management seminar, Beyond the Science: Patient emotions in dentistry. Beyond the Science: Patient emotions in dentistry will present real case studies to dentists and staff members to help them recognize when, and how, to dismiss a patient without placing them at risk; establish trust in the doctor-patient relationship to encourage treatment compliance; and create office protocols to instill confidence in the dentist and staff.
CDA has heard from several members about a scam involving calls from fraudsters claiming to be IRS agents or other law enforcement authorities. The scammers threaten victims with arrest, deportation, license revocation or business closure unless the individual pays the taxes they claim are owed. The callers demand payment by way of a prepaid debit card, credit card or wire transfer. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued an alert advising those targeted by the scam on how to report it.
TDIC is offering the seminar to help dentists correctly identify and handle patients who exhibit dental fear. Beyond the Science: Patient Emotions in Dentistry presents real case studies to dentists and staff members to help them recognize when, and how to dismiss a patient without placing them at risk; establish trust in the doctor-patient relationship to encourage treatment compliance; create office protocols to instill confidence in the dentist and staff.
The Department of Health and Human Services recently released its "Annual Report to Congress on HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rule Compliance." In the report, the HHS detailed the number of complaints received for the calendar years 2011-12, the number of complaints resolved, the number of subpoenas or inquiries issued and more. The HITECH Act requires HHS to conduct the report, which found that during 2011 and 2012, the U.S. Office for Civil Rights (OCR) received 19,476 complaints, which was a significant increase over each respective year prior.
To make the transition from dental school to the workforce easier, TDIC is offering newly licensed dentists their first year of Professional Liability insurance for just $50. In addition, new dentists receive a 45 percent discount in their second year of practice and a 25 percent discount in their third. Founded more than 30 years ago by CDA dentists, TDIC now protects more than 18,000 dentists nationwide.
California’s attorney general recently issued guidance on amendments to the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) that may have an impact on dental practices. CalOPPA now requires any operator of a commercial website or mobile application that collects the personally identifiable information (PII) of California residents to disclose how the website responds to “do not track” (DNT) browser signals.
The Dentists Insurance Company reports an increase in claims related to oral cancer and advises dentists to conduct regular oral cancer screenings on all patients. In addition to consistent documentation of screenings, follow-up and referral of any suspicious lesion or area is strongly recommended. An attorney who has specialized in defending dentists for more than 40 years weighs in precautions dentists should take if they find a lesion or spot that looks unusual.
Interoffice dating can be tricky. Potential landmines include sexual harassment claims, allegations of favoritism, low morale, breakup drama and decreased productivity that can affect the entire dental office, especially if a workplace relationship goes bad. The Dentists Insurance Company recommends a policy defining the consequences of interoffice dating among employees. The policy should include expectations that an office relationship is separate from the work environment and should outline appropriate behavior, such as banning public displays of affection and retaliation if the relationship ends.
Secure electronic transmission of protected health information is one of the many requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule. Dental practices should review the rule requirements to ensure compliance. More and more resources are becoming available for dentists to use to stay compliant. The ADA has launched a new kit, for example, that helps dental practices comply with HIPAA. CDA's HIPAA Security Rule: A Summary resource can be found on cda.org/Privacy-HIPAA. Also, the Department of Health and Human Services has a Guidance on Risk Analysis resource on its website hhs.gov.
CDA is aware of a tax return identity theft scheme that is targeting dentists and physicians. Initially, the fraud was reported by practitioners in other states, but it now seems that the scheme has made its way to California.
May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, which makes it a good time for dentists to make sure that their futures are protected. Dentists who do not have disability insurance and/or business overhead expense insurance, are one accident away from having to deal with insurmountable office overhead expenses and the possibility of being forced into closing their practice. TDIC is encouraging dental professionals to consider the important role disability insurance plays in an individual’s financial security.
In the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the number of health care professionals reporting allergic reactions to latex. Because frequent exposure to latex products can lead to increased sensitivity, health care professionals are at a higher risk of developing an allergy to latex proteins. CDA Endorsed Program PureLife weighs in on the problems, reactions and precautions associated with latex gloves.
The Dentists Insurance Company reports repeated calls to its Advice Line about harassment of dental staff by patients or vendors. Federal and state laws forbid harassment of employees, and dentists have an obligation as employers to maintain a safe workplace. Further, dentists can be held liable if a harassment situation is not addressed, according to an attorney specializing in labor and employment law.
CDA has recently learned that the Dental Board of California has begun taking disciplinary action against dentists who are providing Botox/Dysport or derma filler treatments to patients for cosmetic purposes or teaching courses to dentists to do so.
TDIC Professional Liability policyholders whose Risk Management premium discount expires soon should register for their last chance to complete TDIC's Risk Management seminar, The High Cost of Shortcuts. California dentists must successfully complete the seminar by April 25th to maintain and/or receive the discount. However, for those who attend the CDA Presents Risk Management seminars, the discount will apply to the July 1, 2014 renewal. In addition, registrants will earn 3.0 C.E.
The Dentists Insurance Company has announced its 20th consecutive year earning the A.M. Best Company’s “A” rating. The A.M. Best Company rating includes comparisons to peers and industry standards as well as assessments of operating plans, philosophy and management.
As questions increase about the use of Botox in dentistry, The Dentists Insurance Company advises California dentists that the use of preparations such as Botox and Dysport must be within the scope of dental practice.
Dental offices routinely send medical clearance forms to physicians before beginning treatment on medically compromised patients, and The Dentists Insurance Company receives a number of questions on its Advice Line about this practice. A San Francisco-area attorney working with TDIC who specializes in professional liability and business law, weighs in on how when it comes to medical clearance, the big issue is whether dental treatment could substantially affect a patient’s physical condition or the reverse, whether a physical condition could affect dental care.
Registration for the spring 2014 lineup of TDIC’s Risk Management Seminar: The High Cost of Shortcuts is now open. TDIC is offering the seminar to help dentists avoid lawsuits related to incomplete documentation or failing to fully inform patients.
There is still time to register for the remaining seminars in TDIC’s fall lineup of The High Cost of Shortcuts. TDIC is offering the Risk Management seminar to help dentists avoid lawsuits related to incomplete documentation or failing to fully inform patients. The High Cost of Shortcuts presents real case studies to dentists and staff members to help them understand best practices on creating a proactive approach when multiple dentists treat one patient, establishing office procedures when patients complain of pain and more.
Many dental practices, because of their small size, may not be required to provide FMLA benefits to employees. However, risk management analysts at The Dentists Insurance Company advise dentists to address any request for a leave of absence with caution. There may be other laws that do apply to employee leave, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act or workers’ compensation.
Attendees of next month’s CDA Presents The Art and Science of Dentistry in San Francisco will have an opportunity to take advantage of several TDIC offerings. There will be four chances to attend TDIC’s Risk Management seminar, The High Cost of Shortcuts, as well as two lectures (C.E. non-eligible) at The Spot to help dentists protect their practices and their careers.
Employment Practices Liability insurance, often referred to as EPL, provides protection for dental practice owners against specific claims made by employees, former employees or prospective employees. EPL covers employment-related claims such as discrimination because of age, sex, race or disability, wrongful termination and sexual harassment, and pays for defense costs, settlements and civil damages in the event of such allegations. Risk Management analysts at The Dentists Insurance Company say it is common for policyholders to mistakenly think their Professional and Business Liability insurance covers employment-related lawsuits.
Registration for the fall 2013 lineup of TDIC’s risk management seminar, The High Cost of Shortcuts, is now open. TDIC is offering the seminar to help dentists avoid lawsuits related to incomplete documentation or failing to fully inform patients. The High Cost of Shortcuts presents real case studies to dentists and staff members to help them understand best practices on creating a proactive approach when multiple dentists treat one patient; establishing office procedures when patients complain of pain; implementing office protocol when dealing with patient emergencies; and recommending treatment plans.
In the online world, a website establishes and represents your practice. Just like your brick-and-mortar office, a website needs to be efficient, clean and current. In attracting new patients to your practice via your website, you may want to include testimonials and photos of your patients, and The Dentists Insurance Company reminds dentists to secure patient permission in writing first. TDIC’s website at thedentists.com
offers image consent forms.
Mobile phone use during work hours can give patients the impression their dental care is not a priority, and phone use creates distractions that can increase liability. Inaccurate documentation and lack of attention to detail can occur when concentration is divided between work and mobile devices. The Dentists Insurance Company recommends banning cellphone and smartphone use while on duty, including sending or receiving personal calls, emails and text messages or using smartphone applications.
To make the transition from dental school to the workforce easier, TDIC is offering newly licensed dentists their first year of Professional Liability insurance for just $50.
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