It is common for dental hygienists to leave one practice and move to another. It not properly conducted, change of practice may lead to loss of client records or create confusion. Clients may also feel deserted, especially if the clients do not receive prior notice of the hygiene dentist’s departure. Therefore, if a hygiene dentist is changing practice, they have to make two significant considerations:
Ensure Client Records are Well Maintained and Easy to Access
Comprehensive and accurate records form a crucial part of dental practice. The primary purpose of maintaining records is to enhance the delivery of quality patient care. Proper dental records also enhance appropriate follow up. Hygiene dental records contain a wide range of information, including claim forms, client scheduling, drug records, patient records, and billings, among others.
Before commencing practice, it is a requirement for dental hygienists to agree with their employers or business associates about who will serve as the Health Information Custodian. The parties also have to agree on who will serve as the Privacy Information Protection Officer.
Also known as the patient’s chart, dental records portray all the procedures and treatments of a patient. The records may also contain all patient-related communications that take place in the dental office. Just like other records, hygiene dentists have to adhere to some laws when handling dental records. According to the law, dental records are confidential. Only a few selected individuals should gain access to clients’ dental records.
According to the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario, dental hygienists should maintain and have access to dental records for at least ten years. CDHO is the regulatory body for over 12500 registered dental hygienists in Ontario. Dental records enhance the continuity of a patient’s dental hygiene care. Even if one dental hygienist changes the practice, with proper client records, another dental hygienist can take over.
When leaving a practice, if a dental hygienist is the owner of dental records, they may take the records with them. The client’s records may have documentation from other practitioners who may have handled the client before. It is the obligation of the moving dental hygienist to maintain the records. The dental hygienist has to provide access to the records when necessary. The dental hygienist may choose to leave a copy of the records behind for ease of access.
When the departing dental hygienist is not the owner of the records, they may take a copy with them. However, the Health Information Custodian has to agree. If the custodian does not agree, the dental hygienist may leave the records behind. However, the dental hygienist will have a right to access the records whenever they need them. Clients must always know the location of their records.
Inform Your Clients
A dental hygienist has the duty to inform clients of his/her departure. This is mainly if there will be no dental hygiene or dental care from an expert in the location. In a case where a dental hygienist clinic is closing entirely, it is a legal obligation to inform clients.
Clients have the right to choose their health practitioners. They are free to continue seeking the services of the departing dental hygienist in the new location or remain behind. However, the departing dental hygienist must not solicit clients.
There are several ways of informing clients of a dental hygienist departure. A dental hygienist may place notifications in local newspapers, make a factual statement, and respond to client’s inquiries.