Implement a Recare System
: I am a new dental hygienist practicing in a community health office. Recently, two additional dental hygienists were hired, even though our schedules are rarely full. The two veteran clinicians have been busy in the past, and we have a constant flow of new patients. Our office, however, has no recare system, and the office manager refuses to implement one. Patients are never reminded when they are due for an appointment and no-shows never get called back. I feel like too many patients are falling through the cracks and not receiving the care they need. I would like some advice on how to persuade the office manager to initiate a recare system. Does this fall under abandonment or neglect? And in an office with no past recare system, where is the best place to begin?
Having a recare system is an essential part of a dental practice. It can increase patient retention, assist in managing and detecting oral diseases, fill schedules, and help to maintain high levels of customer service. The absence of a recare system, however, is not considered abandonment or neglect. Abandonment is when a dental care provider has undertaken a course of treatment and he or she discontinues that treatment without giving the patient adequate notice and the opportunity to receive dental services elsewhere.1 As long as your practice is willing to continue treating its patients, it is not guilty of abandonment.
Neglect occurs when a dental care provider fails to perform a clinical action at a level that meets the accepted standard of care dictated by the profession which, in turn, results in harm to the patient. Negligence can also be charged if the dental care provider fails to inform a patient about his or her disease or condition.2
Motivating staff to change can be a difficult task. If your efforts to discuss the need for a recare system with the office manager have been unsuccessful, then you should present your case to the dentist or practice owner(s). Highlighting the potential benefits gained by the practice and its patients through the implementation of a recare system may be the most effective strategy.
When looking to implement a new system, seek out online resources, continuing education courses, or consultants who can aid in the creation of a successful recare program.
- American Dental Association. Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct: Nonmaleficence. Available at: ada.org/1379.aspx. Accessed January 21, 2014.
- Kimbrough-Walls VJ, Lautar CJ. Ethics, Jurisprudence, and Practice Management in Dental Hygiene. 3rd ed. New York: Pearson Education Inc; 2012.