Coronavirus Screening; The Dental Professionals Responsibility

maxill is constantly doing research on any and every topic related to Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC). In the latest news releases, it is now common knowledge that a serious virus, the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), is an evolving situation. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Public Health Sectors, PIDAC, CDC and WHO are all working diligently to ensure the containment of the virus and public awareness for surveillance. As learned from past outbreaks, (SARS) health care providers play a vital role in risk management and assessment. The role of the dental professional is to implement routine screening methods to identify individuals with acute respiratory infections.

Coronavirus-Symptoms

Dental offices need to screen clients for the following:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Travels to Wuhan, China (within 2019 to present)

Clients who may be suspected of having acute respiratory infections must be rescheduled until the period of communicability has ended. The client must be directed to their medical healthcare provider for a comprehensive assessment.

From a documentation standpoint, it must be recorded in each client’s clinical notes that they were screened and the outcomes of the inquiry. The initial screening begins with the administrative team for confirmation of appointments and scheduling of appointments. Self-evaluation is the next type of screening where all dental offices at point of entry are to have the proper signage alerting clients to assess if they have a fever, cough, difficulty breathing and/or have travelled to Wuhan, China, with the resources for hand hygiene and availability of facial barriers (masks). The screening will also unfold in the operatory where the medical history should be taken with the proper PPE already in place as a precautionary step. Ideally, the client will have self-assessed and not have sat in the reception area in close proximity to other clients should it be known to them that they have particular symptoms. Equally as important, if the client feels well, it must be recorded in the clinical notes the client stated he/she was feeling well with no symptoms present.

Form an occupational health and safety approach, dental professionals need to protect themselves with diligent hand hygiene practices and the proper PPE:

  • Gloves
  • Gowns
  • Masks (Level 3 / N95)
  • Eye protection

Dental professionals are well educated on the theory of IPAC which follows a risk management approach of ‘Routine Practice’. Dental offices should refer to PIDAC’s “Routine Practices and Additional Precautions in Health Care Settings”. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care offers this resource as a guide for the role of health care settings. Annex B: Prevention of Transmission of Acute Respiratory Infection in all Health Care Settings. As well the Centre for Disease Control has compiled a guide for information for health care professionals https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/guidance-hcp.html

Any questions should be directed to Public Health Ontario’s Customer Service Centre at 416-235-6556 / 1-877-604-4567. The latest updates are available on CDC’s ‘Situation Summary’ website page https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Michelle Aubé (Simmonds), RDH, maxill Dental Hygiene Educator

Michelle is a Dental Hygiene Speaker, Consultant and Educator with over 21 years of experience as a RDH and 4 years as a CDA. She has written dental hygiene articles for CDHA’s OH Canada professional publication and continues to practice clinically and teaches both clinical dental hygiene and practice management at Fanshawe College and the University of Western Ontario. She has served on the Discipline Committee at Algonquin College and held the position of a CDHO Quality Assurance Assessor for 7 years.

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