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Status displayed prominently on dental file
Jun 8, 2013

While paying my bill at the dentist office my file remained open on the counter in clear view of anyone walking by. On the inside cover in 1/2 inch letters and highlighted in pink was printed HIV. I felt this was a breach of confidentiality. Is this the correct procedure?

Kathy in Pittsburgh

Response from Dr. Wohl

I agree that this is not good procedure. I would try to have a calm conversation with the office manager and explain that you take your privacy very seriously and that the labeling of your file threatens your confidentiality. Further, you can respectfully point out that while the staff may feel that labeling your file this way protects them, it does not. It is not unlikely that there are other patients in this practice with HIV or HBV or HCV that are undiagnosed. Universal precautions has all medical and dental providers assume that patients are potentially harboring infections that can be transmitted to health care and laboratory workers and to treat each the same way under that assumption.

I suspect an alternative procedure wherein your medical history is contained IN rather than ON the file would satisfy all. If the practice does not agree. Find another.

DW



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