Due to the recent announcement from the World Health Organization declaring the COVID-19 virus a global pandemic, we wanted to gather some information to help our customers through these turbulent times. As health professionals, dentists have a great responsibility to their patients to follow reasonable precautions and do their part to help stop the spread of the virus. Many dental regulatory bodies have enforced strict regulations that prohibit all non-emergency surgeries. In the event that your dental office is still operating normally, here are some tips to help protect your staff and patients in this uncertain time.
1. Communicate With Patients
Communication should already be a priority in your practice, but it is now more important than ever. You should try to reach out to each patient before they come to your practice and check in with them. Ask them if they have any symptoms and if they respond yes, consider rescheduling their appointment. If the patient cannot reschedule, some of the other tips on this list should be able to help.
If you do not pre-screen your patients, be sure to screen them as they enter the practice. Ask patients if they have any symptoms or have come in contact with anyone with the virus in the last 14 days. If they have, give them a disposable surgical mask to wear and guide them to a secure single-patient room with the door closed. Proper PPE and hygiene procedures should be followed when dealing with these patients.
2. Utilize Proper PPE
Personal Protective Equipment should be used regularly within a dental practice, but during flu season and during this pandemic PPE is even more vital. Make sure to have a full stock of all PPE on hand and if you are worried about the supply of this equipment, consult with the regulatory body of your practice for more information on where to get more supplies. Surgical masks should be of the highest priority for use by dental professionals and patients alike. If you should come in contact with a patient exhibiting symptoms of the virus it is recommended that you use a surgical facemask, gown, non-sterile gloves, and eye protection.
3. Be Diligent With Hygiene and Cleaning
Beyond the normal sterilization of equipment, special care should be taken to ensure that each person also follows strict hygiene procedures. Frequent handwashing is encouraged, and dental professionals should wash their hands between seeing each patient. The use of hand sanitizer is also encouraged between each interaction with patients or dental equipment. If a patient with symptoms of the virus is treated in your office, be sure to clean the equipment and room that they are treated in thoroughly, using proper PPE to protect yourself.
4. Utilize Flexible Hours
During your pre-screening, if you find that a patient is at risk of exposure, consider closing your practice for the first two hours to see only these patients. During these hours extra care can be taken to properly sterilize all surfaces and ensure that all staff are wearing additional PPE. Before opening for the public again, an additional cleaning can be done as well to further minimize risk. You can also utilize flexible hours by designating certain times to have patients who are more vulnerable to enter the practice. Similar to the last example, extra precautions can be taken during these hours.
5. Stay Informed From Current Sources
This situation is constantly changing and adapting. These are uncertain times and everyone needs to do their best to keep well-informed of the situation. Pay attention to messages from your regulatory bodies, your state or provincial representatives, and medical bodies such as the CDC. Always be open to changing your procedures as per the advice of these organizations.
Please, stay safe. We here at Consult-PRO want to ensure that everyone follows the proper steps to minimize the effect of this virus. We have taken our own measures to protect our team, and we encourage you to do the same.