Business Advise

Navigating the Legal Landscape

Sharmila Ravindran, a legal practitioner since 2004, founded Ravindran, Advocates & Solicitors in Kuala Lumpur in 2011. Specializing in corporate advisory and commercial disputes, she serves as a Panel Adjudicator at the Asian International Arbitration Centre and is a recognized speaker on legal and diversity topics. Southeast Asian Women.Org, powered by YSEALI, acknowledged her as a leading woman in Government & Law.

Setting up and managing a private dental clinic is a multifaceted endeavour that requires careful planning especially when it comes to navigating its legal requirements. Whether you’re a seasoned healthcare professional venturing into independent practice or a newcomer to the field, understanding the legal aspects of maintaining a successful clinic is of paramount importance.

This article aims to provide an insightful overview of important legal facets in ensuring a clinic’s smooth establishment and ongoing operation within the bounds of the law.

The relevant legislation here is the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 and the Dental Act 2018, Companies Act 2016 and other relevant dental regulations.

Here are some of matters of interest if you run a dental clinic or intend to do so :

Business Structure:

Choose a suitable legal structure for your dental clinic, such as a sole proprietorship or enterprise, partnership, or private company. When choosing a suitable legal structure, you may want to ask yourself several questions, are you looking to bring in partners or run the clinic as a sole owner? What are your growth and expansion plans for the next 5 years? Each structure has different legal and tax implications. It is best to speak to a reliable solicitor and tax consultant who will be able to advise you on the best structure for your dental clinic.

Clinic Premises:

A dental clinic’s design must be in compliance with the Ministry of Health (MOH) required standards.

If you choose to rent your clinic premises, it would be advisable for you to negotiate a longer tenure of tenancy as that will give you time to build a practice and clientele in the particular premises. Also, please do ensure your tenancy agreement covers the fact that the premises will have to be renovated in compliance with the strict guidelines set by the authorities for you to obtain and maintain your licenses. Your floor plans and layout will have to be approved by the relevant authorities before you are able to commence your renovation work.

Key areas that need to adhere to these regulations include the clinic’s infrastructure, the documents you keep on-site, pharmaceutical services, medication and dental supplies and specifications for private dental clinics under the relevant authorities.

Recordkeeping:

You will also be required to comply with the requirements pursuant to the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 for the collection and processing of your patient’s personal data. It is important for you to obtain consent from your patients for the use of their personal data.

Develop clear policies and procedures for obtaining informed consent from patients for treatment, as well as for communicating treatment plans, fees, and other relevant information to reduce liability.

Professional Licensing:

Ensure that you and any other dentists or healthcare professionals working in the clinic have the necessary licenses and permits to practice dentistry in your jurisdiction.

A certificate of registration will have to be obtained pursuant to the requirements under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998.

Some of the licenses you will have to obtain is for example approval of the signboard from your local municipal council, license for advertisements and annual practicing certificates.

Insurance Coverage:

It would be advisable to consider obtaining appropriate insurance coverage, including professional liability insurance, property insurance, and business interruption insurance. This helps protect your practice from potential legal claims and unexpected events.

Employment Law:

Understand and comply with employment laws when hiring staff for the dental clinic. This includes issues such as employment contracts, wages, working hours, and workplace safety.

You will have to register your staff to receive all mandatory statutory deductions such as Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Social Security Organisation Malaysia ( SOCSO) and monthly tax deductions as required by the Inland Revenue Board (IRB).

Establish and maintain proper recordkeeping practices, including patient records, financial records, and any other documentation required by regulatory authorities.

Advertising and Marketing:

Adhere to ethical guidelines for advertising and marketing dental services. Avoid false or misleading claims and comply with any regulations governing healthcare advertising.

Consulting with legal professionals can provide valuable guidance and help ensure that your dental clinic operates in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. It is important to do a legal audit on your clinic every year to ensure that you are in compliance with all new regulations and requirements.

SHARM RAVINDRAN
Partner, Ravindran
(Advocates & Solicitors)
Contact No: +6012-907 4250
Email: sharm@ravindran.com.my

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