Dentists warned over communicating with patients via private messaging apps

Warning issued over dentists communicating with patients via private messaging apps

Dentists and dental teams have been warned to act with caution if using private messaging apps to communicate with patients. 

The Dental Defence Union (DDU) has today issued guidance on the potential risks of communicating with patients via direct messaging apps.

In the latest edition of the DDU Journal, the organisation argues that, while the pandemic increased our reliance on remote communication platforms, it is important to exercise caution.

It calls for dental teams to be aware of the potential risks and pitfalls if planning to use direct messaging with patients.

In particular, the DDU highlights that the appropriateness of direct messaging with patients must be carefully considered. There needs to be full regard to professional standards, regulations, and laws.

Issues that must be considered include:

  • Professional boundaries
  • Record keeping
  • Confidentiality
  • Data protection
  • Jurisdictional issues.

Dentistry’s top stories

New opportunities

Jo-Anne Taylor is a dento-legal adviser at the DDU. She said: ‘The increased use of technology into professional practice undoubtedly offers new opportunities to deliver innovative services to patients.

‘However, there are risks associated with this. It is also important to remember that disclosing direct messages may be necessary if a complaint, claim, or regulatory matter arises.

‘Alternatively, workplace communication platforms may offer a secure and GDPR compliant alternative. Here, records of patient communications can be more seamlessly integrated into the appropriate systems and the risk of professional boundaries becoming blurred is reduced.’

Top priority

This comes as the DDU urges the government to make regulatory reform a top priority.

This comes after previous plans for the modernisation of regulation were delayed. In addition, such reform will support struggling dental professionals whose stress levels are rising.

Therefore, this should be a top healthcare priority for the government, the DDU states.

Read the full DDU journal at:

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