This year, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation that offers important patient safeguards and defines the practice of teledentistry in the Commonwealth. That law went into effect July 1.
This was the culmination of a months-long pioneering effort led by the VDA in partnership with the VAO, which has attracted interest from other state dental associations as a model. You can read about how it came to be in the April issue of the Virginia Dental Journal.
The key portion of the law is that for the first time it defines teledentistry in Virginia, placing it under the purview of the Virginia Board of Dentistry. There is now explicit oversight by the appropriate regulatory body.
The law now requires that a dentist practicing teledentistry in Virginia is licensed to practice in Virginia and that the patient has documentation of all dental services provided to a patient through teledentistry, including the full name, address, telephone number, and Virginia license number of the dentist providing such dental services. All patients receiving dental services through teledentistry now have the right to speak or communicate with the dentist providing such services upon request.
While a patient’s previous recourse if they were harmed in the delivery of teledentistry by a dentist practicing with a direct-to-consumer company was to report a violation to the Better Business Bureau, the July 1 law clarifies that teledentistry is under the purview of the Board of Dentistry in Virginia.
In addition to that recourse for a patient, all licensed dentists in Virginia have a responsibility under the Standards of Professional Conduct in Dentistry to, “report to the Board of Dentistry instances of gross or continually faulty treatment by other dentists,” including treatment delivered via a teledentistry platform.
If you become aware of such a circumstance, complaints can be submitted to the Department of Health Professions (DHP) Enforcement Division in writing, e-mail, telephone, in person, and anonymously. Should you have questions, you may contact the Enforcement Division at (804) 367-4691 or toll free at 1-800-533-1560.
Visit the DHP Complaint page to see detailed information about the complaint process. They provide options for filing through an online form or a form may be downloaded and printed to send in writing.
Online Complaint Form:
Important Points to Note:
- The person filing the complaint may do so anonymously by checking off ‘submit anonymously.’ The DHP indicates that they cannot fully guarantee anonymity.
- Although not a required field on the complaint form, there is a section to indicate the dentist’s license number. License information can be found on the DHP’s website here: https://dhp.virginiainteractive.org/Lookup/Index.
- The form asks for the patient information, however, that is not required. If the patient does not want their information disclosed, there is an option to check off ‘no patient information.’
- The DHP asks the person filing the complaint to provide specific information when completing the details requested. Failure to provide specific information will limit the department's ability to investigate your concerns.
The legislation passed this year established a mechanism to protect patients in the delivery of teledentistry. It is the responsibility of all Virginia dentists to make patients aware of their rights and to uphold the standards of professional conduct of the profession.
As it does with all legislation impacting the profession, the VDA will continue to work to educate members around their rights and responsibilities and to work with the Board of Dentistry to ensure patients are being protected and that the law is being followed.
VDA President-elect Dr. Frank Iuorno will be speaking on this issue next month at the Virginia Healthcare Conference hosted by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce October 7.
We encourage all dentists and orthodontists to sign up for text message alerts to stay updated on breaking news and policies that impact dentistry in Virginia by texting “VDA” to 52886.