As experts agree that widespread testing is necessary to identify who has and doesn’t have the COVID-19 coronavirus, the ADA is asking the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow licensed dentists to administer point of service tests for the virus authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under their existing scope of practice.
Federal recognition would enable dentists to qualify as “covered persons” under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act), which may extend protection from liability associated with the administration or use of FDA-authorized COVID-19 tests.
Noting that dentistry is essential to public health, enabling dentists to test patients before treatment will help reduce the very high risk of exposure to COVID-19 that dental personnel face in treating infected but asymptomatic patients. Testing also would add a layer of safety for dental personnel and patients alike, the ADA said.
Furthermore, the ADA said, such testing would enable dental offices to optimize their personal protective equipment (PPE) in the face of the ongoing shortages affecting the healthcare industry and preserve it for emergency and other needed care.
“For these reasons, we urge you to issue federal recognition for dentists to administer FDA-authorized COVID-19 diagnostic tests as soon as possible,” wrote ADA president Chad P. Gehani, DDS, and executive director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, DMD, MPH, in their letter to HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Adm Brett P. Giroir, MD.
“We recognize that these testing kits are currently scarce. However, approving dentists to administer these tests now will expand the nation’s medical surge capacity, optimize the use of PPE in healthcare settings, and create a safer environment for treating dental patients who would otherwise seek care in overburdened emergency departments,” the letter said.
Additionally, the ADA noted that 27 million people visit a dentist but not a physician each year. Federal guidance for dentists in administering FDA-authorized COVID-19 tests would help make every encounter an opportunity to test these individuals, the ADA said.