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FCC Enhances Consumer Cell Phone Protections: What it Means to Dentists

On July 10, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission issued its FCC Declaratory Ruling and Order clarifying requirements under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The Ruling, which took effect immediately, enhances consumer protections from unwanted calls and text messages to cell phones, and affects all businesses, including dental offices, that call or text consumers on cell phones for informational or telemarketing purposes. Dental offices must now obtain prior authorization from the patients to call their cell phone regarding financial and insurance information. Patients may withdraw their authorization at any time.

Appointment reminder calls/texts and other communication related to actual dental treatment made to a patient’s cell phone are exempt from the Ruling requiring prior authorization. However, dental offices must heed the following requirements for such communication:

  • The call/text must be concise and free to the consumer.
  • The dental office must state the name and contact information of the calling party.
  • The call/text must be made only to the cell phone number provided by the patient.
  • The call/text must include a simple opt-out mechanism that allows for immediate opt-out.
  • The call/text may not include telemarketing, advertising, or debt collection content. This includes insurance information requests.
  • The calls/texts must be limited to one per day, and three per week per patient.

Dental offices should train staff on using cell phones for appointment reminders or dental treatment only, if patient authorization has not been obtained. Additionally, dental offices should consider adding a statement and authorization request about cell phone usage to new patient forms. For more information, click FCC information.

Since 1992, OSHA Review, Inc. has provided dental professionals with comprehensive programs to support regulatory compliance and infection control. We are a registered dental continuing education provider in the state of California, specializing in Dental Practice Act, infection control, and OSHA training.

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