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Expectations In Reopening A Dental Office In Consideration of COVID-19

Written by: Sandro Stojanovic, Esq.

The Georgia Board of Dentistry (“the Board”) recently issued a position statement regarding guidelines for re-opening of dental offices in light of Covid-19 issues. First, the Board requires each dental office to follow the: 1) Critical Infrastructure Guidelines, 2) American Dental Association’s (ADA) Interim Guidance for Minimizing Risk of COVID-19 Transmission, and 3) ADA Interim Mask and Face Shield guidelines. The Board also reminds dentists of the Unprofessional Conduct Rule 150-8-.01(a), which mandates adherence to CDC guidelines, and is described as “the guiding principle” for re-opening of dental offices in the state. In order to clarify their position, the Board set forth the following:

    1. The Board will not sanction any licensee returning to full practice provided he/she adheres to the above-listed guidelines;
    2. The Board is not authorized to make a determination regarding your individual legal liability or insurance liability;
    3. All determinations regarding staffing and individual patient care rest solely with the individual practitioner; and
    4. Any complaints received during this time will be processed in accordance with Board policies and procedures.

It is clear from the Board’s position statement that they expect dentists to study and implement Critical Infrastructure Guidelines issued by the Georgia Governor’s Office and the CDC. The Board also expects dentists to comply with ADA’s Guidance for Reopening During Covid-19. While every dentist is expected to act reasonably in accordance with the standard of care of the profession, as defined by their education, training and experience, during these unprecedented times, dentists should consider how the Board is using the adopted recommendations of the CDC and ADA to reopen dental offices.

Foremost, dentists must pay close attention to CDC’s “Guidance for Dental Settings.” Dentists should avail themselves of the ADA’s article: “Guidelines for Reopening During Covid-19.” In addition the ADA has posted numerous resources, online courses, frequent Q&A, and patient education materials to educate dentists regarding the best practices to ensure the health and safety of patients and staff. Importantly, it is not a requirement for a licensed dentist to join the ADA, a private dental professional organization, but the deference that the Board now pays to the ADA and CDC, in these uncertain times, is weighty enough for a concerned dentist to read and inquire. To avoid trouble, dentists may also have their staff review the ADA and CDC guidelines and adhere to the proposed recommendations.

Should you be interested in a free presentation for you and your staff regarding the Covid-19 recommendations or any risk management matter, do not hesitate to contact our office. The links to the guidelines are shown below.

Links:

    1. The Georgia Board of Dentistry Statement – https://gbd.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-05-04/important-message-board
    2. CDC’s Guidance for Dental Settings – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/dental-settings.html
    3. Critical Infrastructure Guidelines – https://cjcc.georgia.gov/grants/covid-19-resources/executive-order-and-critical-infrastruct
    4. ADA’s Guidance for Reopening During Covid-19 – https://success.ada.org/en/practice-management/patients/infectious-diseases-2019-novel-coronavirus
    5. ADA’s Recommendations for Reopening – https://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2020-archives/may/as-dental-practices-resume-operations-ada-offers-continued-guidance?utm_source=cpsorg&utm_medium=cpsalertbar&utm_content=cv-continuedguidance-statement&utm_campaign=covid-19