Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 08 Cameras In Workplace 1

What you have to say about security cameras in your dental offices

Jan. 24, 2018
We asked and you answered. What do you think about security cameras in dental offices? Just like dental offices themselves, there were some similarities and differences of opinions.
Meg Kaiser, Associate Editor

(Click here or on the infographic to see it enlarged.)

Turns out there’s a bit of a disconnect between dentists and their staff members when it comes to cameras in the office. While most dentists said that their employees have no opinion about the cameras, answers from staff reveal something different. They absolutely have opinions about security cameras, and they shared many of them with us.

While security was the number one reason dentists gave for setting up cameras, many staff members aren’t buying it. They feel they’re being “spied on,” and cameras decrease their comfort level at work.


RELATED ARTICLE:Should boss issue warning about cameras in workplace?

However, staff in large offices admitted that cameras are a “necessary evil” for safety reasons. Many have resigned themselves to the fact that today’s society calls for such measures. We could almost hear their sighs: “In this day and age….” “With the recent outbreak of mass shootings…” “The doctor has been embezzled…” “It is a sad commentary on life today…” “With so much violence, theft, and crime…”

But when it came to staff personally, “creepy," “invasion of privacy,” “lack of trust,” “toxic,” and “micromanager boss” were used often. They also believe the number of cameras and where they’re placed in the office should be limited. No one is a fan of audio, which felt like more of an invasion to staff members than the video did. But there were some who felt vindicated when team members who constantly goofed off, or even snuck in friends for treatment, were finally reprimanded.

What was one person’s renegade security answer instead of cameras? Arming staff members and teaching them how to use the weapons. You might want to inquire about the practice’s thoughts on firearms when applying for your next job.

What about cameras in operatories? Hands down staff and dentists agreed operatories are no place for cameras, with many citing HIPAA as the reason. So, it’s a good thing that only a handful indicated their offices have cameras in the operatories. And most were in agreement that patients should be informed when cameras are in use. The majority of doctors who said they have cameras also noted that signs are posted around the office to notify patients about them.

There is agreement among staff and dentists in that their patients don’t really seem to care one way or the other about security cameras at their dentists’ offices.

“We’re seeing most modern dental practices installing cameras today,” said Howard Grainger, product manager at TechCentral of Henry Schein, which handles security cameras. “Dentists work hard to build their practices, and the last thing they want to worry about is losing it all.”

Grainger said that laws regulating video surveillance regarding informing employees vary from state to state. He recommends that dentists research their local laws and comply with any specific regulations. “Regardless of the local laws regulating video surveillance, dentists may want to inform staff members of their intention to install video surveillance. They should explain that there will be no audio and they will not be placed in areas where privacy can and should be expected, such as bathrooms, locker rooms, or operatories.”

Unfortunately, that conflicts with what some of the staff members are experiencing. Of the 97 who provided comments when asked what reasons they were given for installing the cameras, their answers were nearly even between “security reasons,” and “no reason given.” But a lot of staff members don’t believe “security” because they were often reprimanded for their actions. Instead of feeling safe, they feel as though trust is being eroded and privacy invaded.

Many concerned staff members believe cameras keep patients from relaxing and being honest in their conversations about health history. Cameras also keep some staff members from “being themselves” with their patients. One sleuth has security cameras figured out, revealing that, “Those most worried about cameras are usually those with the most to hide.”

Read on to see what your peers have to say about security cameras:


Of the dentists who took the survey, many do not have cameras.

• Not needed in a dental office. The staff should be replaced if concerned about stealing. We have enough things to worry about in dentistry without worrying about staff members stealing.

• There is already enough intrusion into people's lives.

• I don't want it to feel like Big Brother is watching.

• If you have a good and trustworthy staff, cameras might affect their motivation.

• I have considered indoor security cameras, but feel staff would think I'm monitoring them, and that could create a negative atmosphere.

• Cameras are good to have facing the reception area but I’m not a fan of having them to spy on the employees.

• I am seriously considering installing cameras for safety and my own reassurance as to the actions of the staff. I would probably not tell them if they are on camera . . . initially.

• I’ve been told by others that there is a trend to install cameras in operatories to prevent accusations of inappropriate behavior.

• I've considered cameras because I have supplies missing from time to time.

• Security cameras do not compromise the private confidentiality of patients. Unless one is willing to hire a security guard to confiscate all patients’ phones at the door, every aspect of your office is being videoed. That's just how rude patients are.

• Cameras are good for the safety of our team members since they promote the best behavior. A patient claimed that she paid her bill with cash but it was revealed through the recording that she did not pay her bill.

• It is my responsibility to ensure that my practice and everything involved with the area is protected.


Some comments fall under, “If you think you’ve got it bad . . .”

• I was told through an inside source that the audio monitoring could be heard throughout the whole office and that the doctor’s husband listened to the collected audio.

• Camera footage has been used as “evidence” for staff dismissals. There have been varied issues, including writing up employees for “long” bathroom breaks, not cleaning the offices well, or using cell phones.

• Doctors are supposed to be monitoring expensive equipment but instead cameras are used by the office manager to spy on people and start office drama.

• Patients ask us if cameras are really necessary. Some question why the doctor installed them and ask if he does not trust his employees.

• My boss sat in his office with the door closed so he could eavesdrop on staff conversations. He even listened to us when we were walking out to our cars. It was never about security.

• My friend worked in an office with cameras and the dentist actually sent someone back to tell her she was spending too much time going over a health history with a patient.

• I feel I’m always being watched. It’s an uneasy feeling and causes stress among staff members. We do not even feel comfortable eating lunch in the staff room. The doctor spends way too much time monitoring the cameras, and even watches footage at home.

• I feel on edge every day knowing the dentist is constantly watching my every move.

• I told the dentist I was not interested in working for someone who feels the needs to film employees while we’re eating lunch or entering the rest room.

• We could hear the dentist and assistant talking behind doors about front office things that were happening that they were watching. This created a toxic environment. I had to leave.

• It was very disconcerting when the boss made it clear that he was watching us. Once I picked up my birthday cake after hours and the doctor actually asked me about it the next day.

• In our office employees know where the cameras cannot see their activity and they “hide” there, so the same employees continue to be unproductive during down time.

Then there are those who feel that having cameras around just isn’t that bad.

• I have no problem with a camera on me as I count out cash at the front desk.

• Would love security cameras in my office. The girls at the reception desk spend most of the day on the internet. To me that is stealing from our employer, and that’s not what he’s paying them for.

• Cameras are a must for all dental offices!

• It’s a catch 22 for me. As a front office staff who used to be an assistant, I feel like the front office’s hard work isn’t always seen. So, cameras are good for that.

• I don’t mind cameras at all. I work hard and have nothing to hide. They truly are for security.

• It is a bit strange to be monitored but I don’t have anything to hide so it’s fine.

• It’s a great idea! It would require people who don’t work hard to change their work ethics.

• If everyone was doing their job and behaving like a mature professional we wouldn't need them. Sadly, there are a lot of people who are not capable of conducting themselves like adults at work.

• We are one of the few businesses in the building to have security cameras. When incidents occur, we are often asked to share our footage.

• I think cameras are good for the outside of the building for security, but should not to be used in the office. Have we lost all trust in people?

On that note .... smile for the cameras!

For the most current practice management headlines, click here.
For the most current dental headlines, click here.