18 January 2011
Q. I am retiring soon but as yet I have been unable to sell the practice. I am wondering what to do with the patient records and also about the need to continue my professional indemnity until the practice is sold.
It is not clear whether you intend to maintain your practice as a going concern; say by having it run by an Associate or Locum. If so, you would be well advised to maintain the indemnity you currently have as a practice owner. However, if you decide to close down your practice, you will not require any continuing indemnity as your dental membership allows you to seek assistance for any incident which arose whilst you were paying a subscription. In other words, you do not need to continue paying a subscription once you decide to retire from both the business and practice of dentistry.
Meanwhile it is important that your patients’ records are kept safely since the storage of these records continues to be governed by the Data Protection Act and your ethical responsibility to protect patients’ confidential information. Patients may wish to have sight of their clinical records and radiographs if and when they decide to seek treatment elsewhere and are indeed entitled to copies of the same.
As the retiring dentist, you should have access to the original records and radiographs just in case any issues are raised by a patient about an earlier treatment provided before your retirement. Your indemnifier will always be in a much better position to assist you in any type of investigation if you have the original records.
Dental Protection’s advice to dentists is that clinical records should be maintained for a period of 11 years after the last time the patient attended, or in the case of a child (under the age of 16) for 11 years or up to the age of 25, whichever is the longer.