Dentists and dental practices are being warned to avoid using mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers to capture and store data relating to their patients.
The concerns, which come ahead of the introduction of upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), have been voiced by the DDU, which warns that there are increasing “legal complications” surrounding the protection and processing of personal data.
The comments also follow the recent NHS cyber attacks – which shed light on just how easy it can be for fraudsters to access and commandeer sensitive information as part of so-called ‘ransomware attacks’.
David Lauder, of the DDU, said: “The impact that mobile devices have had on society is undeniable. As they become an increasingly common part of our daily lives, it is understandable that many practitioners [will] 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.”
He said: “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 [immediately].”
In coming months, dentists and dental practices will need to begin thinking more carefully about data protection, as the GDPR is due to come into force in May 2018.
UK businesses including dental practices that process and hold sensitive data will be expected to comply with the GDPR in full – which may involve a complete overhaul of existing workplace practices and data systems.
More information about preparing for the GDPR can be found by clicking here.
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