Setting up your practice
Before setting up in practice, you should seek legal advice. There are a number of Acts and Regulations that may affect the setting up of your practice. Discussion with your local district or city council is essential, as they will provide advice on planning provisions, and regulations and bylaws enforced by council staff such as the Building Act 1991, the Resource Management Act 1991, trade and waste bylaws, etc.
You should seek legal advice on a number of practical issues such as:
tax laws, the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (providing a safe working environment), the Accident Rehabilitation Compensation Insurance Act 1998, the Accident Insurance Act 1998, and the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990.
Before beginning in practice, you are strongly advised to obtain legal expenses insurance that provides cover for the cost of defending any legal proceedings that might be brought against you. This is in the interests of both your patients and yourself.
Before entering into a partnership, other association or employment arrangement in dental practice, you should sign a formal written agreement about the practice or employment arrangements.
You are strongly advised to seek professional advice before signing any agreement.
When employing dentists, you have a statutory responsibility to ensure that they are registered and hold an APC.
Your duties and responsibilities as a dentist
Being registered with the Dental Council gives you rights and privileges. In return, you are expected to fulfil the duties and responsibilities of a dentist.
These duties and responsibilities relate to:
The provision of a high standard of care
A patient is entitled to expect that you will provide a high standard of care, which includes:
adequate assessment of the patientís condition
adequate explanation of the state of the patientís health, any disease diagnosed, the probable cause, available treatment options, likely costs, benefits and risks
provision of appropriate treatment
referral for further professional advice or treatment if proposed treatment is beyond your own skills.
Acting in the best interests of the patient
You have a responsibility to put the interests of your patient first. The professional relationship between you and your patient relies on trust and the assumption that you will act in their best interests. This ethical responsibility is reinforced by New Zealand legislation.
You should familiarise yourself with the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers Rights and the Health Information Privacy Code. To establish and maintain trust, you must:
listen to patients and respect their views treat patients politely and considerately respect patientsí privacy and dignity treat information about patients as confidential give patients the information they ask for or need about their oral health and treatment give information to patients in a way they can understand be satisfied that the patient has understood treatment that is proposed and consents to it before treatment is provided respect the rights of patients to decline treatment or seek a second opinion not allow your own views about a patientís lifestyle, culture, beliefs, race, colour, gender, sexuality, age, social status, or perceived economic worth to prejudice the treatment provided have an awareness of the cultural factors which affect dental practice in New Zealand
deal with complaints constructively and honestly
not use your position to establish improper personal relationships with patients not make any statements or declarations that are untrue or misleading not allow motives of profit to override other factors in the treatment of patients
inform the Councilís Health Committee if you have a serious condition which you could pass on to patients or which significantly affects your judgement or performance
make reasonable arrangements for the emergency care of your patients. You are also obliged when consulted in an emergency by patients other than your own to make reasonable arrangements for care
make sure when delegating to other dental care providers that the provider is legally recognised and is competent to carry out the procedure involved.
Maintaining appropriate standards of personal behaviour
You should not engage in any behaviour that is liable to bring the profession into disrepute.
A criminal conviction carrying a penalty of 3 or more months of imprisonment could jeopardise your registration.
Keeping up to date
In the interests of the public, you should continue professional development on a regular and frequent basis throughout your professional life. This should include working and/or meeting with colleagues to monitor and maintain your awareness of the quality of care which you provide.
You have a responsibility to maintain the professional standards as set out in the Codes of Practice developed by the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA). The Codes are an important tool for assuring the public that professional standard issues are being addressed and they also provide directions for disciplinary decisions, needed in case of professional misconduct.
It is likely that, in the future, you will be required to comply with the joint NZDA/DCNZ Codes of Practice and minimum professional development activities before you will be issued an Annual Practicing Certificate.
Providing accurate information about your services
Any information that you publish or broadcast about your services must be factual and verifiable. It must be published in a way that conforms with the Fair Trading Act and with Advertising Standards Authority guidelines.
The information you publish should not compare your services with those of your colleagues or make a claim that you cannot prove.
In relation to the use of qualifications, material on public display should only include:
qualifications gained by examination and recognised by the Dental Council as additional qualifications for inclusion on the New Zealand Dental Register
"Member of the New Zealand Dental Association" (where appropriate)
civilian and military decorations which have been published in the NZ Gazette.
You may use the courtesy title "Doctor", provided it is used in a way that does not mislead the public. To ensure that the use of the title does not imply that you are a medical practitioner or holder of a doctorate, the Dental Council recommends that you only use "Dr" with a description, e.g. "Dentist", "Orthodontist".
Only a dentist who is registered as a specialist is entitled to use the specialist title associated with that particular branch of dentistry. If you are not registered as a specialist, the Dental Act prohibits you or anyone else using any words implying that you are. If you are not a specialist, but have a special interest in a particular branch of dentistry you may use such terms as "practice limited to" or "with an interest in" that branch.
Keeping the Dental Register up to date
The names of all registered dentists and specialists holding current annual practising certificates must appear in the NZ Dental Register, which is a public document. As such, the Register is available for public scrutiny in hard copy or on the Councilís website (www.dcnz.org.nz). Being on the Dental Register shows that a dentist has met the standards for safe practice in New Zealand.
You have a statutory obligation to make sure that the Dental Council has your current contact address. If you donít do this, you may be taken off the Dental Register. It is your responsibility to let the Dental Council know when you change address. (See our website for details .)
If you successfully complete a recognised course of training or study (that the Council considers relevant to competence in dentistry or a branch of dentistry), you can apply to include your new qualifications on the Dental Register.