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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 33-34

Pilot study – To investigate the frequency of patient identity validation when first registering with a UK dental practice


Institution of Archaeologists, Affiliated Member of Royal Society of Biology, Affiliated Member of Royal Society of Chemistry, Member of Institution of Physics

Date of Submission09-May-2020
Date of Acceptance23-May-2020
Date of Web Publication29-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Adrian Harry Blake
Institution of Archaeologists, Affiliated Member of Royal Society of Biology, Affiliated Member of Royal Society of Chemistry, Member of Institution of Physics.

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijfo.ijfo_14_20

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  Abstract 


Aims: The aim of this pilot study is to investigate the frequency of identity validation for patients, when they first register with a dental practice.
Methods: The pilot study reviewed responses made by 16 dental practices in the South West of England to the question, “When a new patient first registers with your practice, is any proof of identity required before they are able to book an appointment and see a clinician?”
Results: All 16 of the dental practices surveyed reported not asking new patients for any form of formal identification.
Conclusion: With none of the practices surveyed asking for the proof of identity when new patients enroll at the practice, there does therefore, appear to be a disparity between the legal weight that dental records hold in the process of identification of human remains, relative to the level of proof of identity from which the former is taken.

Keywords: Patient identity, validation


How to cite this article:
Blake AH. Pilot study – To investigate the frequency of patient identity validation when first registering with a UK dental practice. Int J Forensic Odontol 2020;5:33-4

How to cite this URL:
Blake AH. Pilot study – To investigate the frequency of patient identity validation when first registering with a UK dental practice. Int J Forensic Odontol [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Jul 5];5:33-4. Available from: http://www.ijofo.org/text.asp?2020/5/1/33/288164




  Background Top


Whilst medical histories provide much information which is of key importance to the clinicians such as the potential for drug interactions, allergies, and explanations for clinical pathology, often information of great value can be ascertained from a patient, which may be of significance to a coroner's identification enquiry such as medical implants devices, scars, and other health issues. Paramount to this information is the patient's dental record and charting,[1],[2] but can also include radiographs, dental castes, and prosthetics.[3] Dental records may be used to examine a number of forensic leads for the individuals who are not deceased, in a discipline referred to as forensic dentistry. However, where the identity of a deceased person is in question, forensic dentistry can provide a valuable tool, where other means of identification prove impossible.[4],[5] Across the world, there is a constant need to identify the human remains from the victims of solitary or small-scale incidents, as well, tragically as large-scale events, often with the need to resort to odontological evidence. Petju et al.[6] reported that 46.2% of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster victims in Thailand used dental records as the primary identifiers. Moreover, a study of burns victims in a Spanish bus accident by Valenzuela et al.[7] 2000. found that dental identification was achieved in 57% of the cases. There have over the years been scores of major disasters in the UK, with a multitude of causes and a range of consequences. In more recent years, ranging from the Aberfan Colliery disaster of 1966, a Brighton Hotel bombing (1984), numerous fires including Hillsborough football stadium (1985), Kings Cross Underground (1987), the sinking of The Herald of Free Enterprise (1987); and more recently, the Morecombe Bay Cockling Disaster (2004)[8] where all 58 victims were subject to odontological investigation; and the M5 motorway fire (2011). When a new patient enrolls at a dental practice in the UK, it was noticed that they are seldom if ever required to provide formal supplemental identification.

Aims

The aim of this pilot study is to investigate the frequency of identity validation for patients, when they first register with a dental practice


  Methods Top


A number of dental practices in the South West of England were contacted either through e-mail or in person. Either the practice manager or the reception staff was asked the question, “When a new patient first registers with your practice, is any proof of identity required before they are able to book an appointment and see a clinician?” The responses were recorded.


  Results Top


Sixteen dental practices were included in this survey. All 16 practices reported that no formal identification was either required or requested when the individuals registered as new patients at their practice [Table 1]. No practice reported that any formal identification was seen for individuals registering as new patients.
Table 1: Results of patient ID validation for new patients registering for their first appointment

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  Discussion Top


Many practices nowadays ask patients for some proportion of fees in advance, prior to an initial appointment. For those patients, claiming fee waivers for national health service treatments, proof of fee exemption is sought; however, this tends to be documentary evidence only.

It may be argued that in today's society, often dental fees, where charged, are paid with credit or debit cards, which themselves are proffered as supporting evidence for the identification. However, it is not uncommon for dental fees to be paid by relatives and sometimes friends, resulting in the payee being different to that for whom the account has been raised. At no time is photographic proof of identify sought after. It is not uncommon for patients records to be raised with patients “preferred names” rather than their given legal name, and instances of name changes due to marriage or divorce have later led to confusion within the clinical environment, where records have been created in maiden and married names for the same individuals. Such anomalies as these have the potential for omissions of information, if dental records were requested by a coroner.

Were an individual to be so disposed, it appears that a false identity could be created with little difficulty through the attendance of a dental appointment, whereby dental records could be created which may in future be used to legally identify human remains. Such a situation as this, lends itself to further, future investigation.


  Conclusion Top


With none of the practices surveyed asking for proof of identity when new patients enroll at the practice, there does therefore, appear to be a disparity between the legal weight that dental records hold in the process of identification of human remains, relative to the level of proof of identity from which the former is taken.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Devadiga A. 'What's the deal with dental records for practicing dentists? Importance in general and forensic dentistry. J Forensic Dent Sci 2014;6:9-15.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
2.
Charangowda BK. Dental records: An overview. J Forensic Dent Sci 2010;2:5-10.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
3.
Krishan K, Kanchan T, Garg AK. Dental evidence in forensic identification – An overview, methodology and present status. Open Dent J 2015;9:250-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
ANON. Coroners; 2019. Available from: http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/coroners [Last updated on 2019 Dec 03; Last accessed on 2020 May 07].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
ANON. Forensic Odontology. Available from: https://www.bafo.org.uk/a-guide/. [Last accessed on 2020 May 08].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Petju M, Suteerayongprasert A, Thongpud R, Hassiri K. Importance of dental records for victim identification following the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster in Thailand. Public Health 2007;121:251-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Valenzuela A, Martin-de las Heras S, Marques T, Exposito N, Bohoyo JM. The application of dental methods of identification to human burn victims in a mass disaster. Int J Legal Med 2000;113:236-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Black S, Sunderland G, Hackman L, Mallett X, editors. Disaster Victim Identification: Experience and Practice. USA: Taylor & Francis; 2011.  Back to cited text no. 8
    



 
 
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