Yes, Texas Gov. Abbott lifted the mask requirement and is allowing restaurants to open 100% (effective March 10th, 2021).
How does this impact you, your staff, and your practice?
The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners’ COVID-19 Rule found in Rule 108.7(16) (standard of care) remains in effect until June 18th, 2021 unless or until acted upon by the Board.
Considering the Board met less than two weeks ago to modify and re-affirm this rule – the requirements will likely remain in full force until they expire.
You can reach the rule directly on the TSBDE website here.
So, how to address this with your patients?
I realize there is a wide variety of beliefs about wearing masks (for and against) by patients and dentists alike.
Decide how you will handle this.
I encourage you to find a balance between the guidelines and you/your patients beliefs.
The Hippocratic oath states to ‘first do no harm’…
Consider this from more than one perspective…
Avoid harming others by taking necessary steps to protect against infectious disease transmission
Avoid harming relationships with your patients by being nice and communicating your wishes clearly
Your practice is a private place of business…
As a private business you can require people to do (or not do) certain things, such as wear masks or not smoke in your office.
The CDC Guidelines still recommend that masks be worn by everyone in dental offices.
Given the nature of dentistry - procedures that create aerosols and such, it seems reasonable to request all who enter your office to wear a mask.
I don’t see an upside to being confrontational with patrons/patients who refuse to wear a mask.
In any event, be sure to follow other safeguards, such as patient screening, social distancing, use of task-appropriate PPE, and so on.
In closing, this song popped into my head and I thought I’d share it with you, as it seems so fitting. Hootenanny anybody?
Come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now
Be well. Do good.
About the Author
A former Law Enforcement Officer/ Dental Board investigator, Duane Tinker is the CEO of Dental Compliance Specialists. Mr. Tinker provides compliance consulting, auditing and training services for dentists and Dental Service Organizations on compliance risks including OSHA, HIPAA, Dental Board rules/ regulations, state radiology rules, DEA and state drug regulations, and Medicaid. Mr. Tinker is a frequent speaker for dental societies and study clubs. He also hosts a podcast called Talking with the Toothcop. Mr. Tinker can be reached by calling (817) 755-0035 or through his company’s website DentalCompliance.com.