Ebola Precautions for Dental Practices

According to the American Dental Association, as of October 17, 2014,
dental professionals are advised of the following:

A person infected with Ebola is not considered contagious until symptoms appear. Due to the virulent nature of the disease, it is highly unlikely that someone with Ebola symptoms will seek dental care when they are severely ill. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the ADA Division of Science, dental professionals are advised to take a medical history, including a travel history from their patients with symptoms in which a viral infection is suspected.

As recommended by the ADA Division of Science, any person within 21 days of returning from the West African countries Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea may be at risk of having contacted persons infected with Ebola and may not exhibit symptoms. If this is the case, dental professionals are advised to delay routine dental care of the patient until 21 days have elapsed from their trip. Palliative care for serious oral health conditions, dental infections and pain can be provided if necessary after consulting with the patient’s physician and conforming to standard precautions and physical barriers, as well as making use of suitable Personal Protective Equipment to ensure the spread is kept minimal between patients and medical staff.

An elevated temperature (fever) is often a consequence of infection, but Ebola is not the only infection that may have similar signs and symptoms. The most common signs and symptoms of Ebola infection are:

  • fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F) and severe headache
  • muscle pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • stomach pain or unexplained bleeding or bruising

You are advised not to treat dental patients if they have these signs and symptoms for Ebola. If a patient is feeling feverish and their travel history indicates they may be at risk of Ebola, dental professionals and staff in contact with the patient should:

  • immediately protect themselves by using standard precautions with physical barriers (gowns, masks, face protection, and gloves – a procedure mask would be a good place to start)
  • immediately call 911 on behalf of the patient
  • notify the appropriate state or local health department authorities
  • ask the health department to provide you and your staff with the most up-to-date guidance on removing and disposing of potentially contaminated materials and equipment, including the physical barriers.

The Ebola virus is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with blood and body fluids (urine, feces, saliva, vomit and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola, or with objects (like needles) that have been contaminated with the virus. Ebola is not spread through the air or by water or, in general, by food. Again, there is no reported risk of transmission of Ebola from asymptomatic infected patients.

Information and resources on Ebola are posted on the CDC’s website at cdc.gov. A checklist for healthcare providers (PDF) specific to Ebola is included on the site.

To view this article and other American Dental Association Recommendations please visit: www.ada.org

Stuart J. Oberman, Esq., handles a wide range of legal issues for the dental profession, including cyber security breaches, employment law, practice sales, OSHA and HIPAA compliance, real estate transactions, lease agreements, non-compete agreements, dental board complaints, and professional corporations.
For questions or comments regarding this article please call (770) 554-1400 or visit www.obermanlaw.com.
If you would like Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. to speak at an event for your organization, please contact Amanda Lussiana, Marketing Coordinator (amandal@obermanlaw.com)

Risk Management Webinar

Stuart J. Oberman, Esq, [Oberman Law Firm], will be conducting  a Risk Management webinar, in conjunction with Entrepreneur MD, a nationally recognized informational and interactive website for the dental industry.

Visit https://plus.google.com/events/csbrbe52po8o0pqueiolom0blks to join the webinar. Risk Management Oct 16 2014

Protecting Business Assets

In today’s digital society, protecting confidential and proprietary business information is next to impossible. Employees on a daily basis have access to an employer’s secret and extremely confidential information.  Electronic information can be stored on smart phones, flash drives, in the cloud, and on employer and employee cell phones.

In Georgia, trade secrets are protected by the Georgia Uniform Trade Secrets Act.  Generally, a company’s customer list and other sensitive company information are protectable by the Act. Under the Georgia Trade Secrets Act, the term trade secret is defined as technical or nontechnical data, a formula, a pattern, a compilation, a program, a device, a method, a technique, a drawing, a process, financial data, financial plans, product plans or a list of actual or potential customers or suppliers, which is not commonly known by or available to the public.

When a company takes reasonable measures to protect its valuable and confidential information, and if the information is generally not known to the public, then a company’s trade secrets will most likely be protected. In addition to customer lists and related data, many other forms of information may also be protected, such as business plans, research and development data, product manuals, personnel information, designs, blueprints, schematics, ingredients, formulas and manufacturing techniques.

It is extremely important for a company to have policies, procedures and agreements in place in order to protect a company’s assets and intellectual property, before an employee leaves. Below is a checklist of items that a company should consider in order to protect its valuable assets.

Confidentiality and Return of Records Policies.   A company should have policies and procedures in place that clearly identify what is considered a company’s protected trade secret [customer list, pricing, vendors, referrals, marketing data, business plans and projections, etc…]. In addition, if an employee resigns or is terminated, the company should have a written procedure in place that will require a former employee to immediately return to the company all protected and confidential information.

Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreements.  In order to protect a company trade secrets, every employee should sign a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement. The confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement may be part of a well prepared employee manual or a separate document.

Keep Confidential Information Confidential.  Information that is identified by a company as a trade secret or considered confidential should be treated as such by all employees, or it may lose its confidential status.  A company should train it’s employees to take the necessary precautions in order to protect against the wrongful disclosure or misuse of confidential information.

Bring Your Own Device or Employer Provided Device Policies.  If a company permits an employee to use their own personal electronic devises for business purposes [cell phones, iPads, laptops, etc…], then a company should have a written policy in place that will permit a company to periodically inspect an employees electronic devise in order to ensure that confidential company information is protected and secure.

In addition, if an employee resigns or is terminated, a company should also have a written procedure in place that outlines specifically how a company will be permitted to purge confidential information from the employees personal electronic devise upon departure. The information must be purged immediately upon an employee’s departure.

Non-Solicitation and Non-Compete Agreements.  A company should have its key employees sign a non-solicitation and/or non-compete agreement.  A non-compete agreement will prevent an employee from performing the same or similar services for a competitor, for a certain period of time, within a certain specified geographical area, for specific clients or other confidential relationships.  A non-solicitation agreement will prevent a current or former employee from soliciting or contacting the company’s customers. Both types of agreements must be designed to protect legitimate business interests, be reasonably limited in duration and geographic scope, and be applied consistently, in order to be enforceable.

Immediately Cut Off System Access.  A company should immediately cut off an employee’s access to company information upon an employees planned or unplanned departure [or even in advance of an employee’s departure, if at all possible]. In addition, a company should immediately change all of its passwords upon an employee’s departure, especially in those areas where the employee has access to confidential and protected company information.

Reminder Letters.   After an employee is no longer employed by a company, the company may want to consider sending out a reminder letter to the former employee, with sets forth the former employees post-employment contractual obligations [i.e., non-compete, non-solicitation, and non-disclosure of confidential information, etc…].

In many cases, the most valuable assets of a company, is a company’s intellectual property [customer lists, confidential company data, software, business plans, etc…], and the protection of these valuable assets may very well be necessary in order to ensure the viability of a company. If a company takes the required steps in order to protect its assets, then a company should be in a good position to prevent a devastating and potentially costly loss in the event of an employee departure.

Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. handles a wide range of legal issues for the business community including business transitions, sales, real estate transactions, lease agreements, employment law and entity formation. For questions or comments regarding this article please call (770) 554-1400 or visit www.obermanlaw.com

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