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    The Importance of Patient Privacy

    As a dental patient, you have the right to expect that your personal information will be kept confidential. This means it does not fall into the wrong hands and is not used for any purposes other than those that have your consent. In fact, patient privacy is so important that it is protected by law, specifically through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

    What is HIPAA and what does it require of dentists?

    HIPAA is a federal law that sets national standards for the protection of health information. Protected health information, often referred to as PHI, is any information in your health record that can be used to identify you, including previous or current diagnoses, along with personal information like your name, address or social security number.

    HIPAA law applies to all healthcare providers, including dentists. As the American Dental Association explains, HIPAA requires dentists to take steps to protect the privacy of their patients’ health information. These steps include:

    • Getting your written consent before using or sharing your health information for any purpose other than treatment, payment or healthcare operations.
    • Providing you with a copy of your privacy policy.
    • Giving you access to your health information upon request and in a timely manner.
    • Keeping your health information confidential and secure. This includes not posting your personal health information on public forums, even if we are responding to a review you have left about your experience.

    What can you do to protect your patient privacy?

    There are several things you can do to protect your privacy as a dental patient. These include:

    • Reading your dentist’s privacy policy.
    • Asking your dentist questions about how your health information will be used.
    • Understanding who is allowed to receive your health information.
    • Signing only those consent forms that you fully understand and agree with.
    • Verifying the source before sharing any personal health information.
    • Refraining from posting private health information on online message boards or social media. 

    As dental providers, prioritizing patient privacy helps maintain a relationship with you that is built on trust. If you have any questions about how your private health information is being used and protected, don’t hesitate to contact our team!