Claims of discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination aren’t unique to large corporations. Federal discrimination lawsuits against Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company and Wal-Mart tend to make the headlines with their multimillion-dollar settlements, but under the protection of state laws, California workers at smaller companies, including dental practices, can file lawsuits claiming that their legal rights as employees have been violated. And they do.
The responsibilities of dental practice owners extend far beyond patient care. As an employer, you also have an obligation to ensure you are following workers’ compensation laws. Workers’ compensation insurance provides state-mandated benefits to employees who suffer an injury or illness that arose out of or occurred in the course and scope of employment.
Ransomware attacks on health care facilities are increasing, as are the financial losses incurred by them. In one case reported to TDIC, a dentist had to replace software in the practice due to the extensive damage caused by a virus that gained access through an email attachment. The expenses totaled $49,000 to restore the data, decrypt the data and pay the ransom.
The day-to-day running of a practice can be hectic at times, so many dental professionals use set systems and procedures to streamline their work. After all, less time on the backend means more time on patient care. But occasionally, cutting corners can lead to unwanted risk. This is especially true when it comes to patient records. Taking shortcuts on charting, such as using preestablished templates, can cause more headaches down the road.
Dentists have an ethical and legal obligation to do no harm and to protect the health of their patients. But what happens when their patients put others at risk? Such is the dilemma faced by some practice owners who have called The Dentists Insurance Company’s Risk Management Advice Line with questions regarding their obligation to treat unvaccinated patients. At the core of this dilemma is the return of a disease previously believed to have been eliminated: measles.
Beginning June 1, the National Supplier Clearinghouse began sending letters to Medicare-enrolled dentists notifying them that a surety bond of at least $50,000 per office location may be required to initiate or continue their Medicare enrollment as a supplier of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthodontics and supplies. Prior to 2019, dentists were exempt from this rule.
Take two of these and call me in the morning. That may have been sage advice a generation ago, but today, dispensing medication requires much more scrutiny. Americans are taking more prescription drugs than ever before, meaning health professionals, including dentists, must use extra precaution when dispensing and prescribing routine medications as part of an overall treatment plan.
As some dental practices in California continue to recover from the devastating effects of the 2018 wildfires, The Dentists Insurance Company advises dentists to be prepared for not only the 2019 wildfire season but also for the possibility of year-round wildfire threats. Making sure all practice records, including patient charts and accounts receivable, are backed up often with copies kept in cloud storage or an off-site location is an important step.
Dental practices welcome patients of all ages, but special considerations are warranted for patients of advanced years. Older adult patients — especially those who are medically compromised or have special needs — require extra precautions to ensure they remain safe while receiving the care they need to maintain their oral health.