MDDUS have explained that record cards should be completed accurately and contemporaneously to ensure discussions with patients, on such things as treatment options and plans, are recorded. Compliance in this area is vital for both dentist and the patient.
MDDUS dental adviser Rachael Bell believes dental practitioners should pay particular attention to regulations regarding record keeping and claims, these are key areas where problems can arise during routine checks by Dental Practice Advisers.
'Some dentists may not appreciate the possible consequences if they do not meet standards during record card checks,' says Bell. 'If these checks show errors have been made with claims in a particular band, or the quality of record-keeping falls short of current standards, then practitioners may be referred to Local Area Teams for further action.
'In these situations, a practitioner’s NHS contract can have conditions placed upon it or the contract can even be terminated resulting in serious financial consequences for the dentist.'
Administrative checks on patient records are carried out randomly with the purpose of assessing whether these records are in line with regulations and best practice.
To ensure they are fully compliant, dentists can familiarise themselves with the Faculty of General Dental Practice UK’s document on examination and record keeping, and the conditions laid out in the regulations regarding when to make a claim.
'Particular attention should be paid to when a free replacement can or cannot be claimed,' adds Bell. 'Practitioners should ensure that all the treatment necessary to secure dental health is made under the one course of treatment, otherwise they may be accused of splitting treatment plans in order to gain financially.
'Dentists should contact their dental defence organisation at the earliest opportunity if they suspect there are problems following routine record card checks. Furthermore, all contract holders must be fully aware of the guidelines surrounding claims for each band and they must ensure all staff working for them also follows these regulations.
'If practitioners are found to have made an inaccurate claim, then they can find themselves having to repay considerable sums of money back to the NHS, which can have serious consequences for the viability of their practice.'
A copy of the National Health Service (Dental Charges) regulations can be found at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/3477/contents/made.