Evaluating Patient Records in Dental Practice Purchases: HIPAA Compliance
May 29 2024 0

Evaluating Patient Records in Dental Practice Purchases: HIPAA Compliance

A dentist who is selling a dental practice will likely have prospective buyers interested in every aspect of operations. This includes reviewing patient records. Due to HIPAA regulations, the way that this is done matters. Violations of HIPPA can mean thousands of dollars in fines that can hurt a practice’s financial health. Additionally, this can also blemish a practice’s reputation.

If you are buying or selling a dental practice in California, having an attorney’s assistance can be advantageous. The Los Angeles dental practice purchase agreement attorneys at Leiva Law Firm have many years of experience offloading and acquiring dental practices. One of the foundations of a dental practice acquisition is a strong practice purchase agreement. An attorney at Leiva Law Firm can draft an agreement and help you fully understand every aspect of the agreement so that you are completely aware of the entirety of your rights and responsibilities.

What To Know About Dental Patient Records in a Dental Practice Acquisition

Evaluating Patient Records in Dental Practice Purchases: HIPAA ComplianceIt is critical to care for and protect the private information of patients. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, also known as HIPAA, defines rules that determine what information is protected, the way that protected health information can be used, and how it can be disclosed.

To stay compliant from the start, a dental office should have a Dental Office HIPAA Compliance Officer in place. The individual in this role can become fully informed of and immersed in HIPAA regulations to ensure that a practice is following all of the rules and remaining compliant.

Part of the HIPPA compliance officer’s role will be to conduct risk assessments to see if there are any vulnerabilities in policies and procedures that could violate the disclosure of private data. If weaknesses are identified, these must be addressed following HIPPA guidelines. Specific measures should be implemented to protect confidential information. This would include not only handling such data but also sanctions for non-compliance.

When a prospective buyer requests access to patient-protected information, it is essential to conduct due diligence before allowing access. Then, with respect to handling the transfer of patient records, a dental practice may:

  • Keep original records and provide a buyer with copies. This provides protection against medical malpractice claims.
  • Give a buyer the original records and then make copies for the seller’s own records. However, this option does put a dentist at a higher risk of liability should a medical malpractice claim be made.
  • Write in a sales contract that a buyer will permit a seller access to patient records for purposes of defending against a medical malpractice claim.

A practice purchase agreement may also indicate that a buyer must retain the records of patients for a specific amount of time after the sale. It may also include the buyer agreeing to comply with all HIPPA provisions. As a result, the buyer and their employees should not access any patient records from the sale where the patient did not continue on with the buyer. 

Speak to an Attorney at Leiva Law Firm Today

For assistance with a dental practice acquisition in California, please call Leiva Law Firm at (818) 519-4465 today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney. 


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