Are you Screening Your Dental Patients for Coronavirus? If not, it’s time to start.

Coronavirus as visualized by the CDC

 

As Coronavirus cases continue to mount, medical practitioners are at high risk for catching and passing on the disease.  Most of the news coverage has focused on primary care physicians, but your team is also in danger. Many patients don’t want to cancel or reschedule appointments or may miss early symptoms because they assume that they’re just seasonal allergies.

What can you do to protect yourself, your team, and your patients as the epidemic expands?

Screen before Patients Arrive in the Office

When you call to confirm appointments, conduct a screening.  Has the patient traveled to an affected country, city or state in the last 2 weeks?  Have they taken a cruise or flown on an airplane?  If so, ask them to please reschedule for a time and date outside the two-week window.  Make sure to update your list of affected areas that require a two-week wait daily, by checking the CDC website.  And read the list to your patients – don’t expect them to be up-to-date on the latest Coronavirus news.

Screen for symptoms as well.  If a patient has had a fever and cough in the last 4 days or is experiencing shortness of breath, reschedule the appointment.

 Encourage Your Team to Be Proactive about Calling in Sick

No one wants to look like a slacker. But you also don’t want your office to be ground zero for a local outbreak of COVID-19.   Let your team know that you expect them to use paid time off if they’re at high risk.  If they’ve traveled to an affected area or taken a cruise, have them stay home for two weeks.

Encourage them to be more vigilant about their own health. If they’re sick and might be contagious, they should stay home. Masks protect the patients, but in the breakroom, your team can infect each other.

Review Handwashing and Sanitation Procedures

Your team knows how to wash hands, sanitize patient bays, and protect patients. However, it can’t hurt to review these procedures now. According to Infection Control Today,  hand hygiene can be very effective in ensuring that patients don’t spread the disease to team members.

Retrain everyone, and remind them that everything in the bay should be disinfected after each patient to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread.  Set up a schedule for disinfecting doorknobs, bathrooms, and waiting rooms several times a day.  It may take a little more time, but it can keep your team, your patients, and your community healthier.

Postpone travel to conferences and CE seminars, as well as community clinics.

Travel makes it more likely someone in your office will catch COVID-19.  For now, postpone travel to conferences and seminars. If team members need CE, find online options so that you can minimize the spread of disease.  Also, considering canceling any scheduled community clinics. The large crowds waiting together can make it dangerous for the patients.

Whether the news media recognizes it or not, Dental Offices are on the front-lines for Coronavirus exposure.  Take steps now to protect your patients and your team, so that you can continue to function in the coming months.