21 Apr Keeping Patients Safe
As dental offices in Indiana make preparations to re-open their doors for emergency procedures, patient safety must be a top priority. The precautions below will help minimize infection risk for patients:
Maintaining Social Distancing and Disinfecting Procedures
- Ask patients to wait in their cars and call the office to “check in” once they have arrived and have a staff member call or text the patient when a treatment room is available.
- Escort the patient directly to the treatment room where he or she may fill out any required paperwork and answer any medical health questions while sequestered.
- Wipe down the clipboard and writing utensil after each patient has completed check-in paperwork.
- Discourage patients from bringing companions to their appointment, except pediatric patients, people with special needs, elderly patients, etc. In those cases, limit companions to just one.
- Remove magazines, reading materials, toys and other objects that may be touched by others and which are not easily disinfected.
- Print and place signage in the dental office for instructing patients on standard recommendations for respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette and social distancing.
- Schedule appointments far enough apart to minimize possible contact with other patients in the waiting room. Allow time to disinfect and set up the room for the next patient.
- Surfaces such as door handles, chairs, desks, elevators, and bathrooms should be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
Effective Screening and Office Practices
- Screen patient before the visit. Suggested questions to ask include: (1) Is the patient currently experiencing or has experienced in the last three weeks, signs of acute respiratory illness such as coughing, fever, and shortness of breath? (2) Has the patient had close contact with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19. If available, other testing used could include: temperature, pulse oximeter, and other COVID-19 screening.
- If a patient has a fever associated with a dental diagnosis (e.g., pulpal and periapical dental pain and intraoral swelling is present), but no other signs/symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, sore throat, cough, difficulty breathing), they can be seen in dental settings with appropriate protocols and PPE in place.
- CDC recommends that only asymptomatic patients, patients who have tested negative for COVID-19 infection, or recovered patients (after three days since resolution of signs and symptoms) be seen in dental settings.
- DHCP should ensure that there are appropriate supplies for infection control etiquette, including (but not limited to) alcohol-based hand rub with 60-95% alcohol, tissues, and no-touch receptacles for disposal at healthcare facility entrances, waiting rooms, and patient check-ins.