Administrative dental assistant
This assignment is being submitted on June 24, 2015
Modern healthcare professionals have a discrete set of elements defining their practice standards and stipulated norms to tackle with various situations during their work. Current day professionals in dentistry are equally prone to various situations and circumstances which require contingent decision making and tactical control protocols. Further, the dental care system has a crucial job profile for administrative dental assistants, also referred as Dental hygienists. These assistants aid in providing prompt customer service and ensure proper documentation and data update into the mandated information management and processing systems. It is often found that the administrative assistants are often found to land into severe legal and ethically challenging circumstances, during their course of action.
The dental assistants have been entitled of the advantaged status of being enlisted as health professionals. Hence, there exists a Code of Ethics, comprising of operating principles of professional behavior which drives all dental assistants and lays the base of key expectations, must for dental hygienists to ratify their duties to the patients, to the public/clients, and to their profession. Similarly, there are some legal aspects of administering dental health service, which when combined with The Code of Ethics, affirms and justifies ideology that is ultimately guiding best rendered dental care services.
“Nowadays, the dental care professionals frequently tackle with various situations that further entail inter-linked issues of ethical, operational risk based, and legal conformity issues” (Owsiany, 2008). Since the various clinical administrative works are managed by the dental assistants, they often have to tradeoff between maintaining the ethical standards and complying with the risk and legal rules. This work will try to enlist prominent scenarios under which the administrative dental assistants have to sort out various ethical and legal issues.
Prominent issues involving ethical and legal considerations
“The studies in dental practices have assimilated some regularly appearing scenarios, experienced and tackled by the administrative assistants and dentists, which have critical interface with the ethical and legal issues” (Bland, 2015). Occasionally, resolving the issues pertaining legal considerations requires a stern hold over the ethical aspects of the profession and even the moral obligations towards the society. “In other situations, though, for meeting up with the uppermost ethical principles, assistants often go further than merely adhering to legal norms” (Owsiany, 2008). The following scenarios will help in explicating the above mentioned considerations.
Obligations to continue with existing patients
Every profession aims for adding on to the new client base, adding on to the existing clientele. However, the administrative assistants maintain the multi-appointment schedules and plans for regular patients, irrespective of their apathetic behaviors, appointment skipping habits, faltered payments and lack of compliance with recommended intermediary oral care by the dentist. So the dilemma exists in choosing new clients over existing ones.
Ethical Considerations: Non discriminatory behavior from the dental care administration is must and they must avoid terminating or abandoning the running relations. Still, if situations get inevitable, provision of advance notice for availing another dental care service is must.
Legal Considerations: To avoid any legal implications later, the service termination notice must be informed via registered e-mail communication and proper revert to the same must be acknowledged. Further, a specific tenure must be allotted for securing another dentist’s services and any medical emergency situation within that tenure should be addressed aptly.
Managing patient’s personal records
Every patient record, in case of dental health care, has an inevitable mandate of confidentiality.
“The administrative assistants are often confused between the thin interfaces of accessing their right to hold the patient’s records and furnishing a copy of same to the patient or his representative, at a contingent need” (Sherry & Emily, 2010). A minor fee is also charged for providing a copy of records.
Ethical Considerations: Confidentiality should be maintained for patient’s records. However, a prompt service for providing a copy of the records to the patient himself or a designated person, who presents a valid reason for needing the record, is must.
Legal Considerations: The federal states have laws to protect the patients’ health information, as per the Health Insurance Portability act and the Health information Accountability Act (HIPAA), to uphold the Privacy and Security Regulations (Code of Federal Regulations parts 160 to 164). “Dental assistants have restricted access to client’s personal records, except the dentist himself” (Sherry & Emily, 2010).
Delegable roles and supervision
In many scenarios, the functional assistants to the dentist engage in taking care of the patients, specifically when the dentist is extremely occupied or not available in the clinic. Incorporating a dental assistant can actually lead to better productivity by premeditated delegation of dental duty.
Ethical Considerations: The administrative staff must supervise in absence of dentist that there should be no compromise in the quality of service rendered to the patients. Also, even in necessary, the assistants must engage only in supervisory or relaxed inclusion roles.
Legal Considerations: The federal states have definite individually varying laws regarding the scope of services that could be prescribed to or delegated to the dental assistants. Generally, the auxiliary persons in the clinic can be obliged for supervisory functions or extremely specific roles like monitoring gas levels, managing precise dosage, etc.
Adding to the ethical and legal considerations discussed above, there are a few other aspects that need to be kept into consideration. “In spite of a uniform access and right to express one’s opinion, the administrative dental assistants must not violate the sense of individualism and should not voice against a choice made by patients towards other dentists. The assistant must assure that the patient’s records have utmost confidentiality levels and restricted access. “To lower the probability of landing into a legal risk, dentists should keep away from availing media communication that may misguide the patients and consequently shed a marring impact over the dental profession issues” (Owsiany, 2008). Other important areas are those of, upholding the essential elements of confidentiality in patient records, properly routing and vouching for running client relations desertion, and legally acknowledging any instances of patient’s mistreatment, if diagnosed during the dental checkup. “All above actions discussed are proponents of ‘keeping up’ with ethical considerations in dental profession issues” (Bland, 2015).
The dental assistants face daily challenges in handling situations, which involve both, legal and ethical choices. “While facing the ethical issues, the ultimate choice has to be in causing no harm to any stakeholder” (Bland, 2015). Similarly if the administrative assistants are precisely following the legal regulations, the dentists and their professional setup can be free from any civil liability, thereby evading any disciplinary action by the licensing board . Most frequently occurring issues of major dental operations delegated to the functional assistants can be effectively evaded by the administrative staff. “Most of the imminent legal issues can be resolved by effectively managing the patient’s records” (Sherry & Emily, 2010).
Bland,K (2015). Ethical dilemmas in dental assisting. American Dental Assistants Association. http://www.dentistryiq.com/articles/2015/03/ethical-dilemmas-in-dental-assisting.html
Sherry J. and Emily E.(2010). Ethical decision making. The role of ethics in dental hygiene education.http://www.rdhmag.com/articles/print/volume-32/issue-3/departments/ethical-decision-making.html
Owsiany J. D (2008). The Intersection of Dental Ethics and Law. Journal of the American College of Dentists.Volume 75, Number 4. 47-55.