Oral Health Group

Have You Updated Your Office Manual Lately? It Might Be Time to Do So

June 7, 2021
by Oral Health

The office manual (or HR manual) is an extremely important practice management tool for you as a practice owner. These manuals should include all the policies and procedures in place at your office and be accessible to the entire team. During our survey, 71 percent of dentists said they had an office manual, but what about that other 29 percent? Every dental office should have one and should be updating it whenever a new issue or topic arises. Considering dentists voted practice management as their top cause of stress, having an office manual to guide you on how to handle HR situations is a significant source of support.

Over one-half of dentists say they did not make any modifications to their office manuals last year, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the perfect excuse to revisit them and make any changes or updates you see fit. These are just a few things you may want to consider adding to a new manual or updating on an existing one when you review.


Practice Operations: Starting with the basics, include the day-to-day operations of the office such as hours of operation, services, scheduling, emergency patients, etc.

Patients: Do not forget to include details on how to treat patients, patients’ rights, confidentiality or dealing with patient complaints. Consent, emergency patients, patient education and referrals are also important to cover.

Employees: Do incorporate job descriptions and responsibilities, training or CE courses required, employee rights and contracts, guidelines for discipline and rules for requesting time off.

Infection Control: IPAC is extremely important for the safety of patients and staff members, especially in light of the current pandemic. This is a section you will want to ensure is kept updated with the latest information, and ensure all employees are following the policies closely. Any new sterilization protocols implemented due to COVID could be included or you could create an entirely new section specific to COVID-19.

Safety: There are many more aspects of safety that need to be found in the office manual such as the fire safety plan, what to do in case of medical emergencies, management and cleaning of equipment, and management of hazardous materials.

Dentists are not trained HR professionals or lawyers, so it is recommended to have these specialists assist when creating or revising your office manuals. Regulations can often change so having these manuals reviewed on a yearly basis is not a bad idea. When any changes are made, staff should be reviewing them along with any new team members upon being hired, so they are properly informed and aligned with the rest of the team. Major changes could constitute a formal staff meeting so team members are able to ask questions and discussions can be had. Do take advantage of your team members when making revisions as well, since they will have helpful insights from their own experiences. So, when was the last time you updated your office manual?

As seen in the print issue of Oral Health June 2021

*In late October and early November, 2020, Bramm Research, a third-party independent research house, conducted an online survey of active, practicing non-hospital affiliated dentists and dental specialists on behalf of Oral Health. Using Oral Health’s subscription list, a total of 407 completed surveys were tabulated. With a total sample of 407, the margin of error is plus or minus 4.7 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. If, for example, 50% of the sample indicated that agreed with a statement, then we can be reasonably sure (19 times out of 20) of an accuracy within +/- 4.7%. This means that a total census would reveal an answer of not less than 45.3% and not more than 54.7%.

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