'Failure to produce patient records' among most cited violations, says dental board

Maintaining its focus on consumer safety, the Dental Board of California has issued an increasing number of citations in recent years. As noted in its 2018 Sunset Review Report to the California Legislature, citations increased by 36 percent in each of the previous four fiscal years: 47 citations in FY 2015-16; 56 citations in FY 2016-17; and 64 citations in FY 2017-18.

The five most commonly cited violations according to the report are:

  • Failure to produce patient records
  • Failure to follow infection-control guidelines
  • Failure to comply with bloodborne requirements
  • Grounds for action: Conduct of proceedings
  • Unprofessional conduct

Patient access to records

Under state law, a patient or a patient’s representative is entitled to receive a copy of their information as well as to direct the copy to another individual or entity. A dental practice must provide a copy of the patient’s information within 15 days of receiving such a request. The dental practice — or HIPAA-covered entity — must also provide the copy in the form and format requested by the patient, if this is readily achievable. A patient record includes X-rays, photographs and models and can include any written or recorded information, even if it isn’t clinical.

CDA Practice Support offers downloadable resources to help members comply with records requests, including “Patient Records – Requirements and Best Practices” and “Patient Request to Access Records Form and Q&A’s” (login required). The latter provides a template request form and Q&A that clarify the circumstances in which practices can release patient records, including for divorced or separated parents, and how to handle those requests.

Infection control

Nearly two dozen resources on infection control are available to members on the Practice Support website. These include the dental board’s infection-control regulations and numerous templates and documents needed to comply with those and Cal/OSHA regulations, such as a “Checklist for Bloodborne Pathogens Post Exposure Management Protocol,” “Housekeeping Schedule/Protocol” and an “Exposure Control Plan” (login required). Most of these forms and templates are included in the CDA Regulatory Compliance Manual, also available online.

Consumer protection

Required periodically by the Legislature, the Sunset Review Report allows the Legislature, dental board and stakeholders to discuss the board’s performance and make recommendations for improvements in the interest of protecting consumers and the public.

The board in the report discusses how it uses its cite and fine authority, noting “Citations may be used when patient harm is not found, but the quality of care provided to the consumer is substandard.” The board also explains that it has “expanded the scope” of cite and fine “to address a wider range of violations that can be more efficiently and effectively addressed through a cite and fine process with abatement and/or remedial education outcomes.”

Find the CDA resources cited in this article at cda.org/practicesupport.

Related Items

Eight new or updated laws and regulations affecting dentistry and dental practice management took effect Jan. 1. To help ensure members are currently in compliance — and stay in compliance — CDA Practice Support offers summaries of the laws, including what they require and where to go for resources and support.

Dentists have contacted CDA Practice Support with questions about the new infection-control requirement that all licensed dentists in California should be following as of Jan. 1, 2019. As explained in a December Update article and according to the new law, when performing procedures on exposed dental pulp, water or other methods used for irrigation must be “sterile or contain recognized disinfecting or antibacterial properties.”