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The post-holiday surge of the omicron variant across California has led to an increase in calls to CDA’s Practice Support and The Dentists Insurance Company from dental offices that are unsure of how or if they are required to notify patients after a dentist or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.
Here’s what you need to do if you determine that an infected employee has potentially exposed patients to COVID-19.
If an employee reports a positive COVID-19 result, the first step is to assess whether a close contact exposure has occurred. Close contact is defined by Cal/OSHA as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period regardless of location, except if an individual is wearing a properly fitted respirator such as an N95.
If you’ve determined close contact exposure has occurred, you should conduct contract tracing. Identify which patients had close contact exposure to the employee from two days prior to the onset of the employee’s symptoms or positive test until the employee was last at the practice.
Next, you should immediately notify each person who had close contact exposure and advise them to consult with a medical care provider.
When notifying patients of close contact exposure, it’s important to keep the following in mind:
Reporting requirements to local health department, Cal/OSHA, workers’ comp
In addition to notifying the patient, you may also be required to notify Cal/OSHA, your local health department or workers’ compensation.
Each agency has its own reporting requirements as follows:
The Reporting Symptoms, Exposure or Positive Test for COVID-19: Employee Tracking Form offers step-by-step guidance on assessing close contact exposure, contact tracing and reporting requirements. Additional resources on reporting a positive COVID-19 test in the dental office are available in the CDA Practice Support Library.