Allowing a parent in the treatment area is not a HIPAA violation. The sign posted in the lobby at one of the clinics in a story does not explicitly say that it is a HIPAA violation for parents to accompany their child into the treatment area. It is unfortunate that one of the dentists quoted in the reports misspoke. But there is no policy barring parents joining their children.
It is true that Small Smiles does not have pediatric dentists in their DC area locations. The work performed at Small Smiles is basic dentistry performed by general dentists with any complicated cases, or cases that need to be performed in the operating room, being referred out to a specialist.
We have no reasons to believe that parents were told services were needed that actually were not. This would be counter to everything we stand for as an organization if it were true. Treatment planning is done by each individual dentist in a manner that is consistent with what is best for each individual child. A single treatment planning issue we do encourage is the use of sealants consistent with AAPD and Medicaid guidelines.
Patients are scheduled to accommodate their calendars for adequate treatment and education. At every Small Smiles center an operative appointment is scheduled for an hour and each hygiene appointment is scheduled for 45 minutes.
We do work with our centers to help patients minimize their scheduling and transportation challenges. The opportunity to perform hygiene services and restorative work in the same visit helps parents get the services they need for their children. With our centers experiencing an overall broken appointment rate of close to 50%, it also means the child is much more likely to get the necessary treatment completed if it is accomplished in one visit.
The requirement for a dental assistant to have a certificate to perform x-rays is a state by state requirement. Washington D.C. has no such requirement. Maryland does. The story does not identify which site is being referenced in relation to this claim but if it was happening in Langley Park, MD it clearly should not have been. We are following up on this to ensure full compliance, not only in MD but in other states with similar requirements. Furthermore, all centers are fully equipped with radiation safety gear to handle children from one year of age to young adults.
We take very seriously ANY allegations which call into question our commitment to deliver quality care. That is why we are taking such extraordinary steps to share with you our values, our commitments and to do so in as transparent a way as possible. Every Small Smiles Dental Center has a compassionate staff with the same goal in mind – to give America's kids the smiles they deserve.