With the holidays fast approaching, we wanted to remind you that you are required, either personally or through another Florida licensed dentist, or through a reciprocal agreement with another group, to provide 24-hour emergency care for all patients under your continuing care. If you do not provide this emergency care, then you are subject to discipline by the Board of Dentistry (BOD). Emergency care is also listed in the ADA’s Dental Patient Rights and Responsibilities Statement. It states a patient has the right to reasonable arrangements for dental care and emergency treatment. The full list of patient’s rights and responsibilities can be found at www.ada.org.
Unfortunately, I cannot give you any clear-cut parameters on what will be enough to satisfy this rule. For example, is a 24-hour number for patients to call you enough; do you have to be available to have patients come into your office 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Instead, the reasonableness standard will apply here. Ask yourself is the access to emergency care you are providing to your patients reasonable under the circumstances.
The BOD Rule on this is 64B5-17.004, Emergency Care: It is the responsibility of every dentist practicing in this State to provide, either personally, through another licensed dentist, or through a reciprocal agreement with another agency, reasonable twenty-four (24) hour emergency services for all patients under his continuing care.