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News UK & Ireland

Storing a clinical photo on a mobile device could be a breach of the Data Protection Act, says the DDU. (Photograph: ALPA PROD/Shutterstock)
0 Comments Jul 5, 2017 | News UK & Ireland

Mobile devices pose security risk in dental practice, DDU claims

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LONDON, UK: The Dental Defence Union (DDU) in London has cautioned dentists not to take and store clinical photographs on mobile devices like smartphones or tablets. In view of the recent cyber-attacks on NHS systems in the country, the organisation also advised practices to have an information security policy in place on all their computers, as well as a designated person appointed to oversee data protection.

Back in May, a global ransomware attack brought disruption to NHS systems nationwide. Although patient data was not exposed, according to authorities, details of thousands of NHS staff were stolen in the process.

While taking clinical photographs can be useful for treatment planning and protecting oneself from patient complaints, storing them on a mobile device could be a breach of the Data Protection Act, even if that data is subsequently transferred to the patient record system and deleted from the personal device, explained dento-legal adviser David Lauder in an editorial published in the latest DDU journal issue.

Instead, he said practices are advised to use a dedicated clinical camera that can be stored away securely in the practice and to always seek written consent to the use of the photographs from their patients in order to avoid possible legal consequences.

“The impact that mobile devices have had on society is undeniable. As they become an increasingly common part of our daily lives, it is understandable that many practitioners use them in the dental surgery,” Lauder wrote. “But because of the legal considerations associated with the protection of personal data, and the potential for mobile devices to be lost or stolen, it would be wise to avoid taking clinical photographs on a mobile phone.”

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, clinical photographs of patients, even when unidentifiable, are considered personal confidential data. A breach can lead to fines being issued by either the General Dental Council or the employer.

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