How to answer patient e-mails

May 12, 2012
Issue 5

In this video interview, DPR legal analyst Michael Sacopulos offers tips on how you should handle e-mails from your dental patients. Sacopulos is the author of the Dental Products Report online series: Ask the Lawyer, which provides an opportunity for dentists to have their legal questions answered with in-depth and helpful information.

In this video interview, DPR legal analyst Michael Sacopulos offers tips on how you should handle e-mails from your dental patients.

Sacopulos is the author of the Dental Products Report online series: Ask the Lawyer, which provides an opportunity for dentists to have their legal questions answered with in-depth and helpful information.

According to Sacopulos, when it comes to communicating with your patients through e-mail, HIPPA guidelines state that it is to be done through a secure fashion by means of encrypted messages. Sacopulos says that most patients are not going to have software to decrypt these messages.

"What you need to do is have your patients sign a simple form acknowledging that the messages coming from your dental office are not encrypted," said Sacopulos. "Once they say it's fine with them, you're in the clear."

The federal government also states that if a patient initiates communication with their dentist via e-mail, the dentist can absolutely respond.

Sacopulos advises dentists not to ever send out e-mails to their patients without having anything signed.

Watch the full interview:

Michael J. Sacopulos is a partner with Sacopulos, Johnson & Sacopulos in Terre Haute, IN. He also serves as Legal Analyst for Dental Products Report. His practice focuses on assisting healthcare professionals develop strategies and techniques to avoid medical liability claims. He may be reached at Mike_Sacopulos@Sacopulos.com.