by Dr Michael Shams, Anchorage Dental Care, Mindarie, WA
I initially installed CCTV as a security measure only active at night. It has now become a fundamental component of my practice. While no-one likes to be under surveillance, I believe it’s a valuable tool that helps keep staff and patients protected. CCTV is not unusual or sinister—it simply ensures that everyone is on a level playing field.
What’s good about it
I installed CCTV into my practice for multiple reasons. My hygienist works alone in a room. If anything was to happen, it’d be her word against the patient. Or vice versa. CCTV protects both parties.
It also protects me as a business owner. If a patient or staff member was to make a claim of impropriety against myself or one of my dentists, then it can be confirmed with the CCTV recording. Whether it’s sexual harassment, assault, theft, negligence or an abusive patient, CCTV can reveal the truth of the matter. I believe that this type of monitoring is a very important component of dentistry.
It’s also important that all conditions of the Privacy Act are met and that patients and staff are aware they are being recorded. We delete our footage every two months and this is clearly explained on the release form that all patients sign.
What’s not so good
In a recent incident, CCTV footage completely absolved me of blame. However, the other party protested that they were not aware they were on CCTV even though we have a sign on the front door. The requirements are a posting in every treatment room and a consent form signed by all patients and any accompanying persons, every time they visit. The consent form also needs to explain what happens with the footage. I have now updated our procedures. Since then, three clients have objected to being recorded. Two stayed with us once it was explained but we lost the third client.