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Who's That Inspector?

June 21, 2019 2289

California state sealDental professionals are advised to carefully examine the credentials of anyone who presents to conduct an inspection at the dental practice. Know what the state of California seal looks like — it is pictured here. In addition, dentists and their staff should be familiar with the seals of their cities and counties. 

Reports from dental offices of suspicious “inspectors” have prompted CDA to develop the following Q-and-A about who can legally gain access to a dental office.

Who can legally request access to inspect a dental office? 

Legitimate representatives of enforcement agencies may be granted access to conduct   safety and health inspections. These agencies include the Dental Board, Cal/OSHA, state Department of Public Health, local health departments and fire departments. Other entities, such as auditors from third-party payers and law enforcement, may be authorized by contract or other legal means to access the practice’s records and premises. A table of laws and regulations impacting dentistry along with the respective enforcement agency or legal authority is posted online.

To whom is the dentist required to allow access? 

Access must be provided to an individual with a legitimate warrant. Most agencies, however, prefer to request and receive permission from the owner to access the premises and forego the process of obtaining a warrant. Allowing access is up to the dentist. The dentist and staff should carefully examine the inspector’s credentials. If desired, call the telephone number on the individual’s business card to verify the legitimacy of the agency and inspector.

Can a dental office be penalized or fined for not allowing an inspector into the office? 

Yes, especially if a warrant is provided. For those who have the authority to enter and inspect a dental office, can they arrive unannounced? 

It is standard procedure for an enforcement agency to make unannounced inspections of dental offices. However, routine inspections — for air tanks/compressors, radiation safety, insurance company audits or wastewater permits, for example — may be scheduled by agency representatives with dental offices in advance.

What credentials must an authorized inspector present? 

An inspector should present a badge or business card. Again, dentist and staff need to know what the state of California seal looks like, as well as the seals of local governments. Keep the business card of the inspector.