Screening patients and other visitors is an essential part of COVID-19 infection prevention. Dental practices must also perform screening in compliance with Cal/OSHA regulations.
A screening form may be used but it is not required. Screening protocols must be documented in the dental practice’s written injury and illness prevention plan. There should be notices posted at entrances that individuals with a fever or feeling unwell should not enter and that masks are required to be worn inside. Patients and visitors should be informed of these requirements in advance of their visit to the practice.
All patients and visitors should check in with a designated staff person. Individuals delivering mail or packages regularly and who will not be in the office longer than a few minutes need not be screened.
Staff will screen patients and visitors. Visitors who stay in the reception area can be observed for signs of illness. If a visitor will accompany a patient to the treatment area, screen the visitor the same as the patient. Service techs also will be screened if they are working in close proximity to others. Janitorial staff are not screened if they work when others are not in the practice.
The CDC has recommended that health care providers be aware of patients who show symptoms consistent with monkeypox. Dental practices are encouraged to include screening for monkeypox with current COVID-19 screening protocols to minimize the spread. Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches and backache
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
Screening consists of:
- Ask individuals how they are feeling today and if they recently experienced any illness or close contact with someone with COVID-19. Any patient who recently had COVID-19 should not be seen until more than 10 days have passed since symptoms onset or a positive test. Individuals who had close contact should not be seen until after they have tested negative after 5 or more days after contact. Individuals with monkeypox should isolate for the duration of the illness which is typically two to four weeks.
- Observing individuals for signs of illness. If symptoms are observed, ask questions to determine if the individual should be at the practice.
Temperature taking is not required but a dental practice may choose to do so. A dental practice may also choose as a screening method to require the patient to provide a negative COVID-19 test result. According to the CDC, “Performance of pre-procedure or pre-admission viral testing is at the discretion of the facility."
Request patients and visitors notify dental practice if they become ill or test positive for COVID-19 within 48 hours of their visit. Record in a patient’s record that they were screened for COVID and other ATDs.