Question: What Should You, as a Dentist, Do If You Or One of Your Employees Tests Positive For the COVID-19 Coronavirus?
You or a member of your staff has a confirmed case of COVID-19. What now? Your primary concern is for the individual affected. However, as a health professional operating a professional practice, you also have a duty to your employees and to your other patients. You have to be concerned about any patients with whom your infected staff might have had contact. These steps and protocols, all from prominent government agencies, are meant to help guide you if you or someone in your practice tests positive for COVID-19.
Follow these steps below to help ensure the health and safety of others and to reduce the likelihood of additional transmissions:
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that employees who were exposed to the infected staff member should be quarantined for 14 days, keep track of their symptoms, and contact their own healthcare provider if the symptoms progress.
• Your entire dental office and facility, especially the waiting areas, restrooms, and treatment areas, should receive a “deep cleaning.” These should be regularly cleaned and sanitized or sterilized as the case may be. Click here for additional information on the proper ways to do so.
• According to the CDC, the Dental Healthcare Provider (DHP) should ensure that environmental cleaning and disinfection procedures are followed consistently and correctly after each patient. However, according to the CDC, the DHP does not need to attempt to sterilize a dental operatory between each patient.
• Sterilization protocols do not vary for respiratory pathogens. According to the CDC, the dental professional should perform routine cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization protocols, and follow the recommendations for “Sterilization and Disinfection of Patient-Care Items” present in the Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Healthcare Settings.
• The Dentists should have and implement sick leave policies for any infected staff. These should be flexible, non-punitive, and consistent with public health guidance.
• As part of routine practice, dentists should also monitor themselves for fever and symptoms consistent with COVID-19 regularly.
• The dentists should screen all staff at the beginning of their shift for fever and symptoms consistent with COVID-19. One person, such as the receptionist, might be assigned to this task. Equipment that does not require actual physical contact, such as an infrared thermometer, should be used. The dentists in the practice should be required to undergo this screening, as well.
For additional information, guidance, and resource documents on this topic, please visit our Health Law Articles and Documents page. Be sure to visit our blog page regularly to stay updated on the latest news, policies, and health law topics!
We continue to receive inquiries from healthcare practitioners requesting information regarding health law matters during this time of uncertainty. We are here for you! If you have additional questions in the COVID-19 crisis or any health law matter, please call our office at (407) 331-6620.
The following are additional resources dentists should consult on this issue:
- CDC Guidance for Dental Settings During the COVID-19 Response
- Interim U.S. Guidance for Risk Assessment and Work Restrictions for Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure to COVID-19
- Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Healthcare Settings
- Guidelines for Sterilization and Disinfection of Dental Patient-Care Items
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Dentists.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists in the Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Department of Regulatory Affairs (DORA) investigations, Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) HIPAA complaints and investigations, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) subpoenas and investigations, state board of dentistry complaints and investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.
Our firm also routinely represents physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, home health care agencies, nursing homes and other health care providers in Department of Health (DOH), Department of Regulatory Affairs (DORA), and Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) inspections, audits, and recovery actions, as well as Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits and recovery actions.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
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About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, and Achal A. Aggarwal, M.B.A., J.D. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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