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Ethical Practice


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New data protection regulations come into force on the 25 May 2018. The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) strengthen the current privacy legislation and place new obligations on organisations in the way they collect, process and store personal identifiable information.

GDPR replaces the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and many of the requirements of GDPR are similar to those required to satisfy DPA. However, there are some additional obligations which require those processing personal information to be able to show how they comply with the data protection principles.

Interim advice on how to prepare for these new regulations has been provided as part of the Ethical Practice topic. Please be aware that although the DPA is being replaced by GDPR, most of the advice on data protection provided in the Ethical Practice topic is still pertinent.

In the United Kingdom there is no formalised code of ethics for dentistry. However, dental teams have a professional responsibility to be able to account for their actions and have a duty of care to apply ethical principles to all aspects of their work to protect the interests of patients and earn the respect and trust of their peers and the public.

Dental teams must also comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 [1] to protect personal information of patients and employees, and comply with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 [2], which relates to information held by public authorities.

The General Dental Council (GDC) [3] has produced Standards for the Dental Team [4] which gives details of nine principles dental professionals must adhere to. The GDC also recommends that dental professionals undertake continuing professional development (CPD) to keep up to date with ethical issues.

This section provides information about the general principles of ethical practice, including how to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 [1] and the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 [2], and the dental team’s role in protecting children [5].

Sources of Information

  1. Data Protection Act 1998 (1998) www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/contents
  2. Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. (2002) www.opsi.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/acts2002/20020013.htm
  3. General Dental Council
  4. Standards for the Dental Team. General Dental Council (2013) www.gdc-uk.org/professionals/standards
  5. Child Protection and the Dental Team: An Introduction to Safeguarding Children in Dental Practice. Department of Health (2009) www.cpdt.org.uk/content.aspx?Group=resources&Page=resources_downloads