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DDS Gaurdian Fourth Quarter 2020

A Patient Safety and Risk Management Newsletter from Fortress Insurance Company

Page. 2 - Telehealth: Recognizing Potential Risks to The DDS Practice Matthew Nielsen, JD, CPCU - Senior Vice President, Claims and Underwriting, Director

Widespread adoption of telehealth platforms in dental practices in response to the COVID-19 health crisis has heightened the need to appreciate potential risks that accompany use of the technology. While actual claims related to dental telehealth have yet to manifest at Fortress, our collective experience foretells that plaintiffs’ attorneys will conjure new litigation theories and strategies to pursue these matters in the not-so-distant future. Accordingly, this is an opportune time to consider whether the risk-mitigating approaches outlined below might benefit your telehealth usage.

Understanding the Legal Landscape

Dentists who decide to integrate teledentistry into their practice need to understand the legal parameters for using telehealth technology in their state. Any lawsuit or professional board review matter involving telehealth will include an analysis of whether the practitioner’s behavior conformed to the applicable legal mandates. Thus, understanding the legislative, regulatory and state dental board proclamations on teledentistry will allow you to confirm that current practices conform to your state’s legal requirements. To assist in this endeavor, the Center for Connected Health Policy provides a state-by-state summary of telehealth and teledentistry laws. Guidelines on telehealth, as espoused by authoritative professional associations, may also turn up in a legal action – even if not equating to standard of care – so it is advisable to have a general appreciation of them as well. The ADA’s website provides useful resources on telehealth,which can also aid in working through the procedural steps for offering teledentistry. As always, Fortress also suggests that you consult with your personal attorney for any specific legal questions you may have pertinent to telehealth in your state.

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