Consumer Law Issues for Dentists: What You Need to Know
Starting a new dental practice is an exciting time, but it’s important to ensure you’re in compliance with all relevant laws to prevent legal issues down the road. As a dentist, you must comply with all consumer laws, including those specific to medical professionals. Here are some of the most important issues to consider.
Consent: What You Need to Know
One of the most important issues for dentists is obtaining informed consent from patients before performing any dental procedure. Informed consent requires that you provide detailed information about the proposed treatment, viable alternatives, and any foreseeable risks of the procedure. You must answer any questions and get the patient to sign an informed consent form. Failure to obtain informed consent can result in legal action. If you’re unsure of the requirements where your practice is located, consult a dental lawyer.
Dental Patient Rights
As a dentist, you must uphold dental patient rights, as set forth by the Ohio licensing board. This includes standards related to care, reporting, records, and other dental patient rights issues. Any violations of these rights can lead to sanctions and lawsuits.
HIPAA: Protecting Patient Data
HIPAA sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data, including dental records. This means that you must take the necessary steps to protect physical and digital records and information regarding patient diagnosis and treatment. Patient data must be kept confidential except when given written permission to disclose it to others, such as insurance providers.
Dental Malpractice and Clinical Negligence
Dental malpractice lawsuits can arise when a dentist fails to follow the generally accepted standard of care when treating a patient. This can result in nerve injuries, failure to diagnose oral cancer or periodontal disease, and wrongful tooth extraction. If you’re facing a dental malpractice lawsuit, consult a malpractice lawyer immediately. Clinical negligence lawsuits can be costly and complicated cases to resolve, even though payouts should ultimately be covered by malpractice insurance.
Associate Agreements: What to Look Out For
When considering associate agreements, carefully assess the merits of the offer and scrutinize for any limiting clauses, such as transfer of ownership of patient charts, non-solicitation provisions, and non-compete clauses. If you’re unsure of the potential legal implications of an offered associate agreement, discuss the contract with an attorney.
Practice Buy-Ins and Partnership Agreements: Know What You’re Getting Into
Partnership agreements will dictate your tax burden, legal liability, management responsibilities, and many other factors of your business. It’s important not to sign such a document unless you are sure that all the legal consequences are in your best interests—or at the very least that you are fully informed of their consequences.
Running a dental practice comes with a variety of legal issues that need to be carefully considered to avoid legal action. From obtaining informed consent to protecting patient data, upholding patient rights, and dealing with malpractice lawsuits, it’s important to work with a dental lawyer who can help you structure your practice to avoid problems and assist. Please call Brenden Kelley Law at 216-644-3359 so that we can assist you.
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