Like all other places of business, your dentist must follow the rules and regulations set forth by OSHA in order to ensure that all employees are kept safe. In addition, the office must also comply with HIPAA in order to keep your information private. These are just two of the many guidelines that are set forth for them to follow.
OSHA, or the Occupational Health and Safety Act, was established to ensure safe and healthful working conditions by enforcing standards and by providing training, education, and assistance. While there are currently no specific standards for dentistry, exposure to numerous biological, chemical, environmental, physical and psychological workplace hazards that may apply to dental offices are discussed in specific standards for the general industry. These include dealing with blood borne pathogens, dealing with hazardous chemicals, radiation, and other equipment.
OSHA requires that, in regards to dealing with bodily fluids, universal precautions must always be in place and an exposure plan must be written out and updated annually. In addition, the office must use labels or color-coding for disposal boxes and containers, as well as for contaminated laundry and certain specimens. Furthermore, employees must be trained in these procedures.
Moreover, the way x-rays are given to patients is also regulated in order to limit the exposure to the employees that are responsible for taking them. Also, dental offices have to have a clear evacuation plan in the event that an emergency occurs and every workplace, regardless of type, must display the OSHA poster that explains worker rights to a safe workplace and how to file a complaint. The poster must be in a place where all employees can see it.
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is the legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for ensuring every patient’s medical information is safe. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in August 1996 and contains five sections. In order to be compliant, your family dentistry office must have a plan for keeping patient records safe.
As a patient, this means that you have the final say over whom your medical records are shared with. It also requires any and all health care providers to explain your rights and how your health information can be used or shared. That means that whenever you visit a doctor or dentist you should get a notice of these standards. It is your job to read it and ask questions if you do not understand it before you sign it.
As part of this plan, your dentist’s office needs a compliance officer. This person needs to be organized and assist with training the rest of the staff on privacy issues and stay up to date on what the current policies are. In addition, this person, usually the office manager, must also either be able to do a security analysis or hire someone who can. This must be done regularly and issues and vulnerabilities must be addressed immediately.