4 August 2009
Q. What do I do about records when I move to a new practice and patients ask to be treated there?
If you are leaving an existing business arrangement in a practice and continuing to work reasonably close to the practice that you have just left, (subject to any contractual terms precluding this) it is quite likely that some of the existing patients will want to come to you for their ongoing dental care. In that case it may be possible to arrange with the original practice owner to forward the records for those patients who wish to continue treatment with you in your new practice. Working from the original set of records would be in the patient's best interests; it avoids the need to retake radiographs and also allows the clinician to monitor care and to review their historical treatment more accurately.
Situations also arise whereby an assistant dentist may leave a practice and wish to take the patient records with them. Whilst there is no statutory basis for it, it is the view of Dental Protection that unless agreed otherwise the records are owned by the practice. However, any departing practitioner should be given reasonable access to the records if required in the future, which would allow them to respond to any concerns later raised by patients. To avoid grounds for dispute on the departure of a practitioner it is again recommended that reference to the ownership of records be made at the outset, in a written contract between the practice owner and associate dentist.