mobileTablets, mobile devices or personal computers should never be used to capture and store patient data, the DDU has warned.

These warnings have come after the recent NHS cyber attacks, which caused operations to be cancelled, ambulances diverted and patient records made unavailable.

‘The impact that mobile devices have had on society is undeniable,’ David Lauder, DDU dento-legal adviser, said.

‘As they become an increasingly common part of our daily lives, it is understandable that many practitioners use them in the dental surgery.

‘But because of the legal considerations associated with the protection of personal data, and the potential for mobile devices to be lost or stolen, it would be wise to avoid taking clinical photographs on a mobile phone.

‘Ideally each practice should have a dedicated clinical camera, which could be used both in the practice and when on domiciliary visits.

‘It would need to be kept secure at all times, such as in a locked room or cabinet.

‘When used to take an image of a patient, this should quickly be downloaded onto the clinical record system and then deleted from the camera.’

Protecting data

The DDU has come up with an easy list of things to consider when protecting your data.

Considerations include:

  • Is the IT system adequately protected from unauthorised access, eg is it protected with the use of strong passwords and is the data encrypted?
  • Is the software medico-legally compliant, eg does it allow you to produce hard copies of records?
  • Does the system provide a full audit trail?
  • Does the practice regularly back up electronic records and check that the back-up is working correctly so that the practice is able to retrieve/restore records if necessary?
  • Does the practice hold a back-up of the electronic files in secure off-site premises?