Following on from the recent changes in the EU Regulations, which stipulate that by July 2018, the placing amalgam restorations in under-15s and pregnant/breastfeeding women should be restricted to instances when it is "deemed strictly necessary by the dental practitioner based on the specific medical needs of the patient", the CQC has outlined its approach to this when conducting inspections.
CQC believes that its framework does allow them to review the use of dental amalgam as part of the inspection process and, as part of that, the inspectors will ask dentists and their staff about the use of amalgam, in specific patient groups.
They will look for confirmation that the practice uses an encapsulated system for mixing dental amalgam, and will also ask about processes for amalgam waste removal, including whether it has a dental spittoon system and an amalgam retrieving device fitted to each dental suction unit.
The CQC already occasionally observes dental treatment to review to what extent patients are involved in making decisions about their care, but this is relatively rare and is only used if specific concerns have been identified.
They do not, however, have any plans to conduct checks of the individual clinical quality of patient treatment, as clinical decision-making is outside the scope of their activities.
But they will support the evidence they find by reviewing a sample of dental records, but they have stated that they will not conduct actual audits of dental records.
We plan to keep an eye on this issue and seek feedback from practices on how CQC is dealing with this issue, once the new regulations come into force.
BDA Head of Compliance
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