The Most Common Dental Regulatory Compliance Mistakes

The Most Common Dental Regulatory Compliance Mistakes

All dental practices across regions and states need to conform to a multitude of regulations at the state and local levels. The scope and extent of these regulatory guidelines range based on handling waste material or even certification and documentation of the dental professional. A departure from these rules and guidelines can lead to dental regulatory errors, which harm the practice.

Understanding typical dental regulatory errors can help a dental practice proactively manage problems and stay compliant. It can also consider seeking support from outsourced compliance professionals to handle applicable rules and regulations.

Some common errors encountered in dental practices

Hazardous waste

Hazardous waste needs to be effectively managed by the practice. These materials have a negative bearing on the environment and society at large.

Amalgam waste

Amalgam waste needs to be separated into contact and noncontact waste. Contact waste includes the amalgam present in an extracted tooth while noncontact waste is what is from a patient’s mouth or exposed to blood. There are concerns about the environmental impact of mercury due to the release of mercury vapor.

Silver waste

Silver waste is regulated at the state and local levels and a practice needs to ascertain the applicable guidelines accordingly.

Lead foil, volatile organic solvents, and other materials
Lead waste needs to be handled with care and assigned to recyclers. The increasing adoption of digital radiography has curtailed the impact of lead waste in dentistry. Biopsy containers need to be tightly sealed and clearly labeled with a universal biohazard symbol. The chemical content also needs to be marked. All hazardous organic chemicals call for special handling and disposal.

Handling of sharp instruments within the office

A typical dental regulatory compliance issue is the handling and movement of sharp instruments within the clinic. One optimal practice is to store all instruments in a hard-covered container. In case of a slip, the instruments will remain in the container and the staff or patients are not at risk of injuries.

Employee training to stay compliant

Finding qualified and motivated staff is a challenge. When bright and talented individuals are hired, there is a temptation to get them rolling into work at the earliest. It is advisable, however, to have these employees trained before they step into their roles.

Specific training on HIPAA and OSHA

Getting employees trained on OSHA and HIPPA norms is vital to ensure that best practices are being followed.
Failure to execute a complete risk analysis and successfully manage security risks is a clear HIPAA violation. The dental team should be able to provide patients with access to their health records immediately.

A violation of Occupational Safety and Health Act regulations can compromise the safety of the dental team and patients. It can also attract hefty fines. A typical dental OSHA violation is not providing suitable training on bloodborne pathogens. The Act demands that training sessions be conducted on handling contaminated materials and how personal protective equipment
needs to be used. The team should be trained on protocols for cleanup and disposal.

Inadequate record keeping

As per OSHA regulations, the dental office needs to maintain all records accurately. This helps the practice to validate its obligation of being OSHA-compliant should an audit or inspection happen. Detailed records need to be maintained for

  • Staff training sessions
  • Hazard assessments
  • Medical Surveillance
  • All incidents arising in the clinic

Absence of respiratory protection

Some dental procedures produce aerosols that could spread or contain infectious particles and respiratory protection programs must be conducted for the staff. A practice needs to be able to handle possible respiratory hazards. If necessary, respiratory protection equipment needs to be provided as and when necessary.

Following such protocols can help a practice to significantly lower the chances of fines while also fostering a safer environment for patients and staff.

Lack of Proper Security for Medical Records

A vital HIPAA demand on dental practices is maintaining the security of patient history and information. Physical security of cabinets and storage units is important if paper records are being maintained with key members having access to them. If digital records are being maintained, the practice needs to ensure there are robust security features in the software to prevent potential data theft.

Staying vigilant in regulatory compliance is an unceasing process. It demands attention to detail and staying updated with evolving guidelines. A practice can effectively enhance operational excellence and reputation by avoiding these common regulatory compliance errors.

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