Dentist blog from Delta Dental

Tag: patients (Page 2 of 6)

How you can help fight opioid addiction

As an oral health care provider, you’re an essential member in the fight against the opioid epidemic. Many adolescents who abuse opioids have their first encounter with medically prescribed painkillers (such as those prescribed for wisdom tooth removal), according to the National Institutes of Health. The overall percentage of opioids prescribed by dentists increased by 12.9% from 2010 through 2015, so being aware of how to combat overprescribing is more important than ever.

The American Dental Association’s Policy on Opioid Prescribing supports:

  • making continuing education on prescribing opioids and other controlled substances mandatory
  • implementing statutory limits on opioid dosage and prescription duration
  • improving the quality, integrity and interoperability of state drug monitoring programs

Another important aspect of helping to combat opioid addiction is having open and honest discussions with your patients. The ADA has put together resources to help you educate your patients about the addictive qualities of narcotic painkillers. You can find a comprehensive collection of webinars about opioid prevention for dentists. For example, the ADA offers advice on selecting strategies for pain management that are appropriate for the estimated severity of different procedures.

Studies have also found that a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be a more effective pain management tool than simply prescribing opioids, as well. As Dr. Daniel Croley, our Vice President of Network Development, says, “We ask that all dentists consider non-addictive pain management as their first choice. When narcotics are needed, only prescribe the lowest dosage and quantity needed to effectively manage your patients’ pain.”

The opioid epidemic may be too big for any one person to solve, but to quote Dr. Croley, “Together, we can stop the overprescription and abuse of opioids.”

Upcoming webinars on Provider Tools and National Recovery Month

It’s back-to-school season. In the spirit of ongoing education, we’re announcing a series of webinars in September that will show you how to make the most of Provider Tools. The webinars will also show you how you can talk to your patients about returning to your practice safely and how you can help fight the opioid epidemic that continues to afflict the United States.

Attend a Provider Tools and National Recovery Month webinar to learn:

  • How to use Provider Tools to manage your patients
  • How to talk to your patients about teledentistry and safe in-office visits
  • How to help your patients manage pain without narcotics
  • How you can do your part to fight the opioid epidemic
  • And more!

Don’t miss out — register today!

September 9, 11 am PT / 2 pm ET

September 15, 10 am PT / 1 pm ET

September 24, 11 am PT / 2 pm ET

September 29, 9 am PT / noon ET

Upcoming webinars on Provider Tools and Return to Care

Have you already opened up your practice, but you’re seeing fewer patients than before? Want to learn more about the latest tools to help you run your business more easily and more efficiently?

Not only will our webinar series show you all the tips and tricks you need to get the most out of Provider Tools, it will also offer insight into running a reopened practice. Whether you’re a Provider Tools expert or a first-time user, whether reopening has gone more smoothly than you imagined or has been a bumpy ride, we’re here for you.

Attend a Provider Tools and Return to Care webinar to learn:

  • How to use Provider Tools to manage your patients
  • How to communicate with patients about coming back for dental visits
  • How to protect yourself, your staff and your patients against COVID-19
  • And more!

Don’t miss out — register today!

August 13, 11 am PT / 2 pm ET

August 21, noon PT / 3 pm ET

August 25, 9 am PT / noon ET

Learn how to manage patients’ info with a new Provider Tools video

To help bring you more tools and better services, we’re releasing a series of new instructional videos about Provider Tools! In our first video, focused on the “My Patients” tool, you’ll learn how to:

  • Use the “My Patients” tool to view info for Delta Dental enrollees
  • Look up a patient’s eligibility, benefits info and treatment history

Whether you want a quick overview of a patient’s info or need to drill down by procedure code or tooth, it’s all available in Provider Tools.

Watch the video to learn how.

Stay tuned for more videos about new features and helpful guides!

On-site quality assessment review checklist for 2019

On-site quality assessment (QA) reviews are part of our quality assessment program for dentists in California, mandated by the California Department of Managed Health Care.

A QA review gives you a look at how the many components of your practice compare to the expectations of dental professionals, regulatory agencies, dental educators and Delta Dental.

QA reviews are conducted in two parts:

  1. Structural (about 20 minutes): Review of your facility and equipment, as well as emergency, sterilization and infection control protocols.
  2. Records (about 1 hour and 45 minutes): Review of patient treatment documentation for relevance and acceptability under current standards of patient care.

The following list highlights just some of the aspects of a QA review. It can serve as a useful tool to help you review your practice through the eyes of the QA examiner. Together with your staff, you can evaluate your office policies and procedures and be even better prepared for a future on-site QA review.

Structural review

Facility and equipment

  • Facility is clean and well maintained, dentist name and office hours are posted.
  • Procedure manual includes written protocols for new and recall appointments, documenting complaints, broken appointments, specialty referral.
  • Accessibility/reasonable accommodations exist for patients with disabilities, such as wheelchair access and a grab bar in the restroom.
  • Waterlines have anti-retraction valves installed and maintained, handpieces and waterlines are properly flushed.


  • Certificates are current and equipment inspection dates are posted.
  • Lead (or lead-equivalent) apron with thyroid collar is used.

Sterilization and infection control

  • Staff is trained in infection control standards and logs are kept of procedures followed.
  • Gloves, masks, protective attire and eyewear are used appropriately.
  • Weekly biologic monitoring is conducted and records are kept.
  • Instruments and handpieces are properly sterilized, stored and labeled.

Safety and emergency procedures/equipment

  • Drugs, syringes and needles are properly stored; a log is kept of drugs dispensed on site.
  • Required certifications are up-to-date.
  • A modern evacuation system exists for nitrous oxide.
  • Written office protocol includes staff responsibilities for assisting/evacuating patients in emergencies or natural disasters, evacuation plan is posted and exits marked.
  • An active contact system can reach the dentist 24/7.
  • Portable emergency oxygen is available, tank is full and there is a positive pressure valve and/or Ambu bag; staff are trained in use.
  • Mercury hygiene and safety requirements are observed.
  • Medical emergency kit is up-to-date.

Records review

Medical and dental history

  • Medical history forms include yes/no questions, identify patient’s existing conditions and contain comprehensive health information.
  • Dental history includes baseline information, TMJ/occlusion status, appliances, periodontal condition and results of soft tissue/oral cancer exam.

Treatment notes

  • Progress/treatment notes are legible and in ink
  • Included, as appropriate, are:
    • Referrals to specialists
    • Records forwarded or received
    • Anesthetic used (type, amount and concentration of any vasoconstrictor)
    • Medications prescribed
    • Laboratory instructions

Quality of care

  • Professionally acceptable standards of care are observed for:
    • X-rays — adequate number, appropriate frequency, of diagnostic value, mounted and labeled
    • Treatment plan — in ink, consistent with diagnosis and exam findings, alternative and elective treatment documented with the patient’s choice and reason
    • Treatment sequence — in order of need
    • Informed consent — documentation that treatment plan was reviewed and patient understands risks, benefits, alternatives and costs; any refusal of recommended care is documented

Outcomes of care

  • Patient records demonstrate effectiveness of preventive care
  • Overall comprehensive documentation demonstrates that treatment was provided as appropriate, including:
    • Good prognosis for appropriate longevity
    • Evidence of need (x-rays, pocket charting etc.)
    • Minimal unplanned treatment or retreatment
    • Referral to a specialist in a timely manner
    • Post-operative instruction given
    • Follow-up (pocket charting, x-rays etc.)

Informed consent is key to patient satisfaction

Ensuring that patients understand their financial responsibility for treatment, including treatment that is not covered under their dental benefits plan, can help safeguard their overall satisfaction with your practice.

A good way to accomplish “informed consent” (as required under your Delta Dental participation agreement) is with a thorough discussion about treatment, alternatives and costs, along with a form or other documentation that includes the same information and the patient’s written acknowledgement of the discussion. Points to discuss and document include:

  • The agreed-upon course of treatment and specific non-covered services
  • The patient’s acknowledgement of non-covered services and personal responsibility for the cost
  • Risks and advantages of proposed and alternative treatment
  • Costs for necessary subsequent treatment, such as a crown after endodontic therapy

In addition, we strongly recommend that you submit a pre-treatment estimate before providing any non-covered services (or any expensive and/or extensive services). Though not usually required, a pre-treatment estimate has several advantages, including further helping patients understand their benefits and financial obligations.

Much of this information is covered in your Dentist Handbook, which is updated periodically. Be sure to review it regularly by logging in and using the Reference Library.


« Older posts Newer posts »

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑