Living in a global pandemic does not mean that all the work stops. Maintaining a duty of care to dental patients and looking after oral health is an ongoing process. More than ever, patients need a supportive environment and the opportunity to seek help if they have any concerns. To continue to run your dental practice as smoothly as possible though, you need to have the correct safety measures in place to ensure the wellbeing and protection of both staff and patients. Here is an outline of ways you can adapt your practice in the Covid-19 era.
Safe Reception Zone
Running your practice involves more people than simply the dentist and the patient. Your administrative and reception staff need to feel safe. To ensure the safety of your staff, installing desk guards acts as a protective barrier between staff and customers when close interaction is necessary.
Steps like this can also help relax patients as they will be reassured that your practice is adhering to coronavirus regulations. Other safety measures to put in place in the reception area include hand sanitizer available for both employees and customers to make any paperwork and payment interactions safer for each party.
Although patients can’t wear a mask during their dental appointment, you want to encourage wearing a mask in the reception area. You can even go further with this step and refuse to service those that do not respect this rule.
Remember the fact that the reception zone is the area that is the most vulnerable to Covid-19 infections. This is where you need to implement the most security practices possible.
Limit Patient Numbers
To reduce the risk to staff and patients, limiting patient numbers in your practice is essential. You can do this by creating a telephone booking system, where all appointments are pre booked in advance and checks are made as to whether they or anyone in their household are experiencing any symptoms.
This is, of course, also possible with the use of the internet. It is very easy to implement an online booking system that will help you to limit patient numbers. At the very least, you can do this with the use of a free tool like Google Drive, which has a calendar you can use to keep track of appointments. In modern days, it is not enough to just use pen and paper.
If you have the resources to do so, you could have a temperature checking point at the entry of the practice. Encouraging patients to attend alone also helps limit numbers, although exceptions may need to be made for children or people with carers.
If you have a waiting room, make sure chairs are socially distanced and at least 6 feet apart. In cases of busier days, consider implementing a social distanced queuing system into your practice.
We cannot tell you exactly how high the limit needs to be since this varies based on various factors, from how many dentists service patients and how large the support staff is to the size of the reception area. However, we should highlight that it is always a good idea to maintain some free space available to deal with possible emergencies. This is something that even hospitals do these days.
Safety During Dental Examinations
Dental appointments require close contact with multiple patients on the same day. Although patients are not able to wear a mask during an examination, there are still ways to improve safety in this scenario. Dentists and any other dental care assistants in the room can wear both a mask and a visor to reduce any possible transmission risk. Gloves can also be worn and protective gowns. Regular hand washing and sanitizing should be available throughout dental appointments too.
Obviously, after the dental appointment is over, it is very important to sanitize the entire area. This should be done after every single patient, even if it will reduce how many patients you can service per day. If you cannot service any because of being infected with Covid-19 you lose much more.
These are necessary and achievable safety measures to put in place during the pandemic to protect both staff and patients. As long as you stay updated with the latest Covid-19 guidelines in your area, then you will be able to run your clinic as seamlessly as possible and hopefully keep looking after people in your community and providing an efficient oral care service.
It is really important to be aware of all the laws and restrictions that apply in the area where the dental office is situated. However, all the guidelines should only be seen as minimum requirements. You can easily implement more safety procedures and be much stricter in order to reduce the possibility of you and your patients getting infected.