How to Avoid Common Regulation Issues as a Sedation Dentist

DOCS Education and David Palmer, Esq. discuss state dental regulations and federal policies that could impact your practice.

By Susan Richards, Staff Writer

The national dental guidelines, federal policies, and state-by-state regulations are so diverse and constantly evolving that you need a lawyer to keep apprised of them all. Fortunately, DOCS Education employs a regulatory expert who understands the importance of protecting you, your patients, and your practice.

In a recent DOCS Education Elite Learning Series webinar, David T. Palmer, Esq., presented Legal Jeopardy: How to Avoid Common Regulation Issues as a Dentist.

His review included the most prevalent legal concerns and questions dentists have, such as the latest DEA MATE Act requirements, drug inventory, recordkeeping, typical HIPAA violations, and how to meet the standard of care with appropriate staffing and training.

David Palmer joined DOCS Education last year to assist sedation dentists as they navigate state regulations and compliance while also serving as a liaison to facilitate a knowledge-driven relationship between dentists and their governing boards.

Prescription Drug Monitoring in Dentistry

David provides an overview of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (referred to as PDMP or PMP) in the first section of his presentation. “The purpose of these prescription monitoring programs is a commitment to patient safety, substance abuse prevention, and elevating the quality of care,” he explains.

His lecture also covers PDMP registration and reporting requirements commonly occurring in the dental office.

DEA Regulations

Dentists who order, prescribe, dispense, or administer controlled substances must also be registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Last year, the DEA announced updated requirements via the DEA Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act:

  • As of June 27, 2023, prescribers must check a box on their registration form affirming that they have completed 8 hours of one-time training on safe, controlled substance prescribing and that the course is provided by a specific organization listed in the statute.
  • On August 7, 2023, the DEA issued a final rule titled, "Dispensing Narcotic Drugs for Relieving Acute Withdrawal Symptoms of Opioid Use Disorder," which broadens the availability of medications and potentially reduces overdose fatalities.

David Palmer also addresses the critical DEA recordkeeping requirements for dentists who prescribe or administer controlled substances. He states, “I highly recommend taking a full inventory at least once a year, if not every six months, to catch any discrepancies or identify patterns of significant loss."

Protecting Patients’ Privacy and Security

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is well known to healthcare professionals. With the intent to restrict the disclosure of a person’s health information, HIPAA also impacts other areas that can be tricky to navigate.

According to HIPAA rules, dentists must also ensure privacy within their third-party business relationships by utilizing a Business Associate Agreement.

While online reviews are a valuable marketing tool for dental practices, responding to those reviews must remain HIPAA-compliant. David strongly urges dentists to keep grievances off social media as it can damage their reputation and result in hefty fines.

However, one of the most common HIPAA violations is a failure to provide a patient with their records within 30 days of a request.

Recordkeeping and Staffing Regulations

Closing out the Legal Jeopardy presentation is a review of the standard of care in dentistry. These best practices constantly evolve, from patient assessment and selection to emergency protocols. David addresses recordkeeping, appropriate staffing, and monitoring requirements – essential for sedation dentists and teams.

“Recordkeeping is by far the most common dental board violation,” he explained. Regulations vary significantly from state to state, so knowing your requirements is crucial.

With dental rules and regulations constantly evolving, it pays to stay informed and compliant. While this course cannot address every state board’s rules and requirements, DOCS Membership includes legal and regulatory support, with valuable access to David’s knowledge and experience.

If you're interested in learning more, the course Legal Jeopardy: How to Avoid Common Regulation Issues as a Dentist is now available online for home study and includes the informative question-and-answer session that followed the presentation.

To watch this course, click here. DOCS Members and Trial Members can watch for free and earn 1.5 CE hours for a limited time.


If you're not yet subscribed to receive the Incisor newsletter, filled with cutting-edge dental news sent directly to your inbox twice a month, you can do so here.

Author: Susan Richards is an award-winning staff writer at DOCS Education. With more than 20 years of experience in local journalism, feature writing, and business marketing, Susan enjoys creating content with context for various industries.

DOCS Membership

Upcoming Events
May 17- 18, 2024
Atlanta, GA skyline
August 23- 24, 2024
October 04- 05, 2024

More Articles