We undertake to maintain patients’ privacy and confidentiality consistent with the General Dental Council (GDC) guidelines and our legal obligations.
All practice personnel are obliged to keep all details of patients confidential and are not permitted to talk or write about any aspect of patient care outside the practice. This requirement includes unregistered members of staff and trainees.
We undertake to keep complete and accurate patient records, including an up-to-date medical history, notes of all relevant conversations with patients about their health, treatment, consent and costs and clinical records. These records will also include as necessary: consent forms, radiographs, photographs, plaster models, laboratory prescriptions, referral letters.
The only information that is necessary to provide full clinical care should be recorded. The need for information should be explained to patients when required.
Access to patient records is regulated to ensure that they are used only to the extent necessary to enable staff to perform their tasks for the proper functioning of the practice. These include:
- Identifying and printing repeat prescriptions for patients
- Writing referral letters to hospital consultants or allied health professionals.
- Opening letters from hospitals and consultants.
- Checking for a patient if a hospital or consultant letter, laboratory work or radiology result has been received, in order to schedule an appointment with the dentist.
- When a patient contacts a practice, checking if they are due for any preventative services, such as routine dental examinations and hygienist appointments.
Disclosure of Information to other Health and Social Professionals
With patients’ consent, certain information may be passed on to other health and social care professionals in order to provide the treatment and services they need. Only the relevant part of the records will be released. These other professionals are also legally bound to treat the information with the same duty of care and confidence that we do.
Information required by insurers shall only be provided with the consent of the patient.
Use of Information for Training Teaching and Quality Assurance
Dentists and Hygienists may discuss patient case histories as part of their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for the purpose of training dental nurse students or for the purpose of auditing their practice. In these situations, the identity of the patient concerned should not be revealed. Any identifiable use of patient information outside the practice including online postings is prohibited unless written consent from the patient concerned has been received.
Legal requirements to provide patient information
In some circumstances, it may be necessary to inform appropriate social care agencies or the police where we have information that a patient is or could be at risk of significant harm, or we suspect that a patient is a victim of abuse.
When ordered by a court, or under a statutory duty, to release information about a patient without their permission we will only release the minimum amount of information necessary to comply. Justification of the disclosures will be recorded in the patient’s notes.