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June 2019

What to Do When Patients Are ‘Under the Influence’

The recent legalization of marijuana has pushed the question of what to do when patients under the influence come into the dental office.

Consider this:

  • What do you do if a patient reeks of marijuana smoke?
  • What if the patient seems drunk, or “high”?
  • How does your office handle a patient who is chemically impaired?
  • What happens if the patient is in so much pain he or she is asking to have the pain relieved anyway you can?
  • What else might be going on that is not dental-related?

The front office can be the first team members to identify when a patient may be under the influence and is impaired. Having an office protocol in place is the best way to effectively handle these situations in a calm, professional manner. A set protocol will help reduce the potential an unpleasant scene, or of an ethical and/or a risk management issue.

Here are some suggestions:

  • The front office team should engage the suspected impaired patient in conversation. Ask the patient a number of questions, and gauge the responses.
  • The team member should then contact the dentist to assess the patient’s condition. The dentist should also engage that patient in conversation. These two conversations should determine fairly quickly whether the patient can actively make decision regarding treatment. If the patient is impaired but not suffering discomfort or having an emergency, the dentist would be justified in refusing treatment.
  • If a patient presents with a dental emergency that would result in harm if not treated right away, then treatment should proceed.
  • Be on the lookout for drug-seeking individuals, particularly if they are not patients of record. The individual may be looking for pain medication because they are addicted to such medication. The entire office team should be familiar with the Michigan Automated Prescription Service, commonly known as MAPS, and should display the MAPS poster. (A tear-out copy of the MAPS poster will be included in the August MDA Journal.)

It will be helpful to discuss these steps, and others, at a team meeting in your office. The doctors and staff in your office should all be clear on what to do when such situations present themselves.

Here are some links to MDA Journal articles that your doctor and dental team may find helpful:


Michigan Donated Dental Services (DDS):
A “Feel Good” Opportunity for the Whole Team

If your office is looking for a way to give back to the community in a meaningful way, consider becoming part of the Michigan Donated Dental Services (DDS) program.

The Michigan Donated Dental Services (DDS) program matches volunteer dental offices with patients who are elderly, suffer chronic illness, or have a permanent disability and have no other means to obtain dental care. Case coordinators pre-screen and interview patients to make sure they meet eligibility requirements and understand the value of the care being provided.

As an added incentive, licensed dental staff participating in the program can earn CE credit for time spent treating patients. If lab fabrications or specialty services are needed, program coordinators handle securing those donated resources as well. Your office treats one patient at a time within your own office according to your usual office schedule and policies.

The Michigan Donated Dental Services (DDS) program is a great way to provide a meaningful experience in giving to local residents who are truly in need of your help.

For more information or to volunteer, please contact Karn Cornell or 517-346-9455 (southeast Michigan coordinator) or Domonique Brace or 517-346-9454.


First Certified Dental Business Professional Credential Awarded

Karen KrupaCongratulations to Karen Krupa, the first front office team member to earn the Michigan Dental Association Certified Dental Business Professional credential.

Krupa works in the office of Dr. Nick Pound and Dr. Nate Pound in Jackson. The program, which was launched in 2017, provides a course curriculum to help business staff improve office processes, operations, and communication. It’s a program Krupa said meets a need.

“Dental offices are unique in that they virtually do everything within the same office,” she said.

To earn the CDBP credential, enrollees must complete 30 credits of MDA courses offered at Annual Session, one-day seminars, or online. Whether you are a new office manager or a seasoned dental team member, earning this certification gives you the ability to better communicate with patients, increase case acceptance, and grow the practice. Once enrolled, a three-year period is allowed for completion.

Re-certification occurs every three years, which requires 18 credits of continuing education in MDA courses that apply to the dental business professional field.

Watch the MDA Journal for the names of other dental team members who have received their credentials. For more information on the program, visit the CDBP website.


Register now for Upcoming CE Courses for Front Office Teams

Three great continuing education courses are coming up fast, the first covering human trafficking identification and the second on building a productive and highly effective front office team.

Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019
MDA Summer Scientific Session, Mt. Pleasant

Medical Billing in Dentistry: Dental Sleep Medicine and Beyond

The goal of the presentation will be to review some of the common barriers to reimbursement in dental sleep medicine and offer solutions and methods that can be implemented immediately within the practice to ensure claims are successfully paid. The audience will gain insight into important considerations when preparing to bill any service to medical insurance. Specific common medical policies and both state and federal regulations that dental practices often overlook will be discussed.

The cost to attend just the seminar is $109 for staff and MDA member dentists. The cost to attend the entire Summer Scientific Session is $225 for staff and $350 for MDA member dentists.

NOTE: This course counts toward the Certified Dental Business Professional curriculum.

REGISTER FOR AUG. 17 SEMINAR >>

Friday, Sept. 13, 2019
Grand Traverse Resort, Acme

Professional Protector Plan® Control, Protocol, and Risk Management Seminar

The Professional Protector Plan® Control, Protocol and Risk Management Seminar will provide the latest claim information statistics to help mitigate risk and provide real-life experiences of your colleagues who have encountered risk exposures. This course is designed and appropriate for all dentists, specialists, and office team members. The cost to attend is $90/person.

NOTE: This course counts toward the Certified Dental Business Professional curriculum.

REGISTER FOR SEPT. 13 SEMINAR >>

Friday, Sept. 13, 2019
Northern Michigan University, Marquette

New Patient Experiences That Lead to Yes! (a.m.)
Dental EQ: Leadership Skills for a Successful Dental Practice (p.m.)

The morning course will teach dental team members how to build trust with patients to increase treatment acceptance. The afternoon course will discuss how the four elements of emotional intelligence will lead to better leadership, better interaction with patients, and financial success for the practice The cost to attend is $169/member dentist; $139/staff; and $269/nonmember dentist.

NOTE: This course counts toward the Certified Dental Business Professional curriculum.

REGISTER FOR SEPT. 13 SEMINAR >>