Dental Tribune International

CDA recommends best practices for video recording in dental offices

By Dental Tribune International
November 08, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif., U.S.: An increasing number of dental offices implement video surveillance systems to ensure their own and patient security, aid in loss prevention, and deter burglary, break-ins and other criminal activity. Despite the numerous advantages of surveillance cameras, the California Dental Association (CDA) has recently cautioned dental practice owners to inform themselves about the laws and regulations surrounding video recording and suggested adhering to practical guidelines that could bring considerable benefit to the practice and help maintain patients’ and employees’ health information privacy.

State laws can differ in each state. Nevertheless, the following guidelines should apply to most states in the U.S. Firstly, since many states, including California, have strict laws against eavesdropping, dental practices should only record video, not audio. Additionally, surveillance cameras should not be placed in areas where people expect privacy, such as restrooms and changing rooms.

To avoid legal compliance issues, all employees and patients should be made aware of the use of cameras in the workplace. Employees should be informed in writing and a signed acknowledgment kept in the employee file. Similarly, patients should sign acknowledgment and release forms, depending on the area in which the camera is used. Finally, recording storage and management policies should be drawn up to ensure personal data protection compliance.

To safeguard medical information, dental practice owners must also consider the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and privacy regulations before installing security cameras. For example, it is essential to avoid capturing a computer screen with a patient’s private information. When using cameras, it is also crucial to consider who has access to the recordings taken both inside and outside the practice.

Finally, in some situations, patients may request to record treatment themselves. However, the Dentists Insurance Company (TDIC) advises dental staff against allowing patients to record treatment, since the recording may include other people who have not granted their consent.

“A video of a patient undergoing an exam or treatment is considered protected health information under HIPAA, and under the law it must be treated as such,” said Trina Cervantes, a risk management analyst at TDIC.

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