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Exercising caution with communications

11 July 2014
Something as small and simple as an email carries its own pitfalls. Make sure you understand the technology you use to communicate with patients...

A patient had emailed a practice to let them know that his wife had just given birth to their baby. The same email had also been copied to family and friends as well and in total had been sent to approximately 60 people.

Having opened the email, the dentist replied and offered his congratulations and took the opportunity to remind the patient that he had not collected a denture repair that had been ready for some weeks.

Having drafted the reply, the dentist then sent it but failed to notice that the reply was also being copied to all those who had received the original email from the patient. By the time he realised what he’d done, it was already too late because the email had been sent.

He telephoned Dental Protection and asked what he should do. An apology followed to the patient and thankfully there were no repercussions – but the breach of confidentiality could potentially have had serious consequences.

The lesson is that there could be a high price to pay if we allow technology to master the user.

Learning point:
Make sure you master any technology that you introduce in your practice.
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These case studies are based on real events and provided here as guidance. They do not constitute legal advice but are published to help members better understand how they might deal with certain situations. This is just one of the many benefits dental members enjoy as part of their subscription. 
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