Closing a Dental Practice: Patient Safety Considerations

By David O. Hester, FASHRM, CPHRM, Director, Department of Patient Safety and Risk Management, The Doctors Company

Dental practices undergo closure for many reasons, including dentist illness, death, relocation, or the dentist’s decision to sell, practice solo, join another group or retire. As a service to our members, the Department of Patient Safety and Risk Management of The Doctors Company provides this information to make the transition easier.

What should be done in an emergent situation?
During any change in practice, the continuity of patient care to ensure that no patient is neglected is of paramount concern. If the change is abrupt — as in the circumstance of a death — the safety measures below will assist in ensuring patient safety and continuity of care.

Review all previously scheduled appointments to determine the appropriate action. Immediately contact a dentist of the same specialty to arrange patient care or provide patients with a list of dentists of the same specialty within the area. You also should take the following steps:

  • Ensure the availability and accessibility of dental records as needed for the continuity of patient care.
  • Post a notice of closure in the office and in the local newspaper. (Contact your patient safety risk manager for a sample notice.)
  • Call all dentists who customarily refer patients to the practice and all contracted managed-care organizations, and the medical malpractice carrier.

Who should be notified if it is a non-emergent closure?
If the practice closure is non-emergent, notify the following individuals and entities:

  • all patients and legal representatives in the “active” caseload; this includes any patient seen in the past six months to three years or others the dentist considers “active,” and any patient in an acute phase of treatment
  • all peer dentists within the community
  • local dental societies
  • all third-party payers (including Medicare and Medicaid) and managed-care organizations
  • the DEA (if you are retiring or if you are moving to another state)
  • the state licensing board
  • professional associations in which you hold membership
  • your CPA or financial adviser
  • your employees
  • landlords, lenders and creditors
  • insurers that cover the practice, the employees and the physical facility

How should the notice be communicated?
Draft a letter to each patient that contains all the necessary details. The same letter can be used for everyone listed above. (Contact your patient safety risk manager for a sample letter.) It’s recommended that letters be sent with return receipt requested and that a copy of the letter and return receipt be kept. If a patient is considered high risk, send the letter certified with return receipt requested. Post a notice in a local newspaper to inform inactive patients or those who have moved away. Include directions for obtaining acute, critical or emergency care if a new dentist has not been selected by the time the practice closes.

Is there a time limit for sending the closure notice?
Yes. In a non-emergent situation, send the notice at least 60 days prior to the anticipated closure. This gives patients an opportunity to locate a new dentist and to obtain copies of their dental records without undue stress.

What other responsibilities should be undertaken by the practice that is closing?

  • Provide patients with easy access to their dental records by enclosing an authorization document in the notification letter you send to them. (Contact your patient safety risk manager for samples.) When the signed authorization is returned, you can provide copies and apply appropriate charges.
  • Provide information on where the dental records will be stored in the future, the length of time (in years) that the records will be retained, and a permanent mailing address or post office box number for all future record requests. Arrange a secure storage place for the original dental records that is safe from theft, fire, flood or other weather-related disasters.
  • Maintain the dental records in accordance with The Doctors Company’s recommendations: 10 years after the last adult visit and 28 years from birth for pediatric patients. The records should be easily accessible and retrievable.
  • DO NOT give original records to patients. The easiest method is to find another dentist to take over the practice and turn the records over to that provider or turn the records over to another dentist of the same specialty.
  • Stress the importance of continuing care for all patients. Provide information about where they can find another dentist, such as the Yellow Pages and the local or state dental society.
  • Make provisions for the completion of all dental records.
  • Place a notice of closure in your waiting room and in the local newspaper for at least one month, giving pertinent details of the closure.
  • Consult with your personal or practice attorney and the state licensing agency to ensure that you have met all regulations.
  • Destroy remaining prescription pads.
  • Keep the narcotics ledger for a minimum of two years.
  • Dispose of any drugs.

 

Contributed by The Doctors Company. For more patient safety articles and practice tips, visit www.thedoctors.com/patientsafety.

The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each health care provider in light of all circumstances prevailing in the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.

3 Solutions for Payment Processing at Your Dental Practice

By TransNational Payments

Between scheduling appointments, filing paperwork and coordinating staff, operating a dental practice can be stressful. Add to that the responsibility of selecting the right treatment and procedures for your patients, and the last thing you want to worry about is how you and your colleagues will get paid.

Fortunately, there are effective solutions for payment processing at your dental practice that can give everyone something to smile about.

Credit Card Terminal
A credit card terminal is a stand-alone device that enables your patients to pay with their credit or debit cards. It’s a very common option in dental practices today — in fact, you may have one at your reception area right now. But, do you know if it’s EMV-compatible?

EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa), a standard behind chip cards, is a must for all businesses that want to enjoy secure payment processing and avoid liability for fraudulent transactions. When it comes to your dental practice, security is key, especially considering all the confidential patient information you handle daily. This one-time upgrade is simple and can protect your payments for years to come.

Mobile Payments
It’s 2018, so why should you or your staff be stuck at the front desk when processing your patients’ co-pays? It’s time to give your staff and your clients the flexibility of mobile payments! Here are just some of the many benefits you can experience:

  • faster payments — complete transactions in just a few seconds
  • shorter lines — reduce the wait and increase customer satisfaction
  • stronger security — keep the cardholder information safe and sound
  • diverse features — enjoy real-time reporting and paperless receipts
  • reasonable price — get modern payment processing without breaking the bank

Getting started with mobile payments is just as simple as using them. All you need is a mobile device, such as a smartphone or a tablet, a card reader and a mobile app that lets you perform, save and manage transactions at the palm of your hand.

Recurring Billing
Payment processing isn’t hard, as long as you approach it in a smart way. If you have patients visiting the office on a regular basis, there’s no need to request their credit or debit cards each time a payment is due. Instead, ask them if they want to enroll in recurring billing. If they agree, you can use your payment gateway to select the transaction amount and the frequency of withdrawals. This is a great way to give your patients an excellent visit experience and help your practice achieve a steadier cash flow.

Recurring billing also is something worth looking into for your personal payments. It’s no secret that dental school debt is sky-high right now, averaging $287,331 as of last year. Some of the best advice for loan repayment includes consistent and timely installments. With recurring billing you can achieve just that, all while avoiding late fees and penalties.

Don’t let your existing payment processing make a dent in your dental practice. At TransNational Payments you can enjoy the transparent interchange plus pricing structure and work with dedicated account managers committed to helping you lead your dental practice to success. Experience payment processing made simple today!

Writing a Dental Resume that Gets Attention

By Grace Carter

A well-written resume is critical to getting a job in the dental industry. You don’t need to have a wealth of experience or a ton of awards, all you need is an appealing and informative resume to get an interview. Read on to learn how to write a dental resume that gets attention.

Summary Statement
Start off you resume with a summary of your qualifications. This part should be kept brief — four or five sentences at most — describing your education and qualifications. It should only include things relevant to the position you’re applying for. Be descriptive and use examples from how you have used your skills and knowledge in the dental field at previous jobs.

Education
List your education in reverse chronological order, remembering to include your degree and major, month and year of graduation, the institutions you attended, their location and any licenses connected to your degree. Specify if you are licensed to practice dentistry or are a certified dental assistant. If you’re applying to an entry level position, you can include any internships you completed. Recent graduates may include courses they completed, such as local anesthesia or radiology. If you were a high-achieving student, then include your GPA and any honors or awards you received — these will help you stand out from the other applicants.

Experience
List your previous positions in reverse chronological order. Include the name of the practice, the position you held there, the location and the time period you worked there. Do not add jobs that are irrelevant to your career path. It’s important that you discuss your area of expertise. Make a bulleted list of keywords related to your area of expertise, resumes organized in ways other than paragraphs are eye-catching. Describe the type of facility you worked at previously, as this will help your employee imagine what your experience was like. “Make your resume stand out by paying close attention to what the employer is looking for and highlighting the experience you have that matches it. Use lots of action verbs in your resume; these words stand out better than adjectives. Remember to focus on action verbs specific to the dental industry,” recommends Charles Hildebrandt, resume writer at BigAssignments.

Skills
Skill sections are one way for inexperienced dental professionals to separate themselves from the competition. You can include things like advanced procedures you have learned and practiced in internships. List your skills and accomplishments in order of importance and not chronologically. Don’t forget to include professional associations you are a member of, like the American and Florida Dental Associations, or the American Student Dental Association. You also can include soft skills, such as your ability to work well on a team. Teamwork is important in dentistry, so if teamwork played a part in past jobs that were not otherwise related to dentistry, you can mention that here.

Should You Include References?
Generally, references are not included on a dental resume. They add length and do not improve your chances. You should just wait until your employer requests references, and then provide them. Employers will usually only ask for two or three references. Make sure you have their permission and preferred method of being contacted.

Use Online Tools to Help Write Your Resume
Writing doesn’t come easily to everyone, so don’t be afraid to get some help from the experts. Here are some good resources to get you started:

  1. ViaWriting and WritingPopulist – These are grammar resources you can use to check over your resume for grammatical mistakes.
  2. Resumention – This is a resume service you can use to improve the quality of your resume.
  3. CV Service and Academized – These are editing tools, recommended by BestBritishEssays, you can use to make sure your resume doesn’t have any typos or other errors.
  4. StateofWriting and StudyDemic – Check out these writing guides for ideas and advice on how to improve your resume. Even experienced writers can benefit from some extra guidance now and then.
  5. BoomEssays and Essayroo – These are online proofreading tools, recommended by Essayroo review, you can use to make sure your resume is polished and error-free.
  6. MyWritingWay and Lets Go and Learn – Check out these career writing blogs for tips and suggestions on how to improve your resume. You’ll find posts here by people who have successfully written dental resumes before.

Conclusion
There are a lot of job opportunities for dental professionals, but to get hired you need to create the right kind of resume. Write a resume that stands out by highlighting achievements, making it suit the position you’re applying for and emphasizing your strengths.

 

Grace Carter is a proofreader at Do My Assignment and Write My Paper services. She works with the team of writers and content creators. Also, Grace teaches online courses at OX Essays website.

Chew on This! 32 Questions with ADA President Dr. Joseph Crowley

Filmed in a single shot, the FDA asks intriguing people what they like, what they don’t and that fascinating middle ground that defines them.

In this edition, we were at the American Dental Association (ADA) building in Chicago and ran into ADA President Dr. Joseph Crowley. He recently received an honorary membership to a dental association in another country. Click the video below to watch and find out where.

Interested in taking part in “Chew on This! 32 Questions” or know someone who would make a great subject? Please send suggestions to communications@floridadental.org — we’d love to hear from our members!