The Expiration of the COVID-19 Rule: How Does it Impact Dentists?

The Texas dental board let the COVID-19 rule expire (rule 108.7 subsection 16). How does that impact dentists moving forward? What rules do some providers still need to follow? What procedures are still recommended by the CDC? We cover it all in this episode of Talking with the Toothcop! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:20] The impact of the expiration of the COVID-19 rule
  • [4:41] The OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard
  • [9:25] 1910.504: The Mini Respiratory Protection Program
  • [16:35] Subscribe to the podcast and sign up for our newsletter!

The impact of the expiration of the COVID-19 rule

How does this impact you? Maybe very little. There is no longer a Texas State Board rule that says you have to follow these specific rules. You don’t have to wear N95 masks. You don’t have to do twice daily temperature checks. You don’t have to screen patients and check their temperature. But many of you have gotten used to the process and feel like it’s best to continue. You absolutely can! You get to decide how to care for and keep your patients and staff safe—whatever that looks like for your practice. 


The OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard

There is an OSHA standard—the “Emergency Temporary Standard”—that was released a few weeks ago and was effective immediately upon release. That means it is an enforceable federal law. Who is impacted by this law? Those who work with people who are suspected of having or confirmed to have/had had COVID-19. This can include employees at:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Emergency responders
  • Home healthcare workers
  • Employees in ambulatory care facilities

It does not apply to non-hospital care centers where non-employees are screened before entry and those with COVID-19 are not allowed to enter. So if you screen everyone that walks in the door, this rule doesn't apply to you. 

If it does apply, you must have a written safety plan, patient screening management, transmission-based precautions, PPE, physical distancing, and more. What qualifies as screening? Listen to find out!


OSHA Standard 1910.504: The Mini Respiratory Protection Program

When respirator use is required, the respiratory protection standard applies. This requires medical evaluations, fit testing, a written safety program, user seal checks, and training. What does the “mini” version require? User seal checks and proper training. 90% of dental offices are already here. 


CDC COVID-19 guidelines are still recommended

The state board still recommends finding the CDC guidelines:

  • Postpone procedures if they aren't medically necessary
  • Implement Teledentistry and Triage Protocols (doesn’t apply yet
  • Screen and triage everyone entering for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  • Monitor and Manage Dental Healthcare Professionals (if you’re sick, stay home)
  • Create a process to respond to COVID-19 exposures among DHCP and others
  • Implement universal source control measures
  • Encourage physical distancing
  • Consider COVID-19 testing for patients and staff who don’t exhibit symptoms (we recommend you don’t do that)
  • Do things to minimize exposure
  • Implement universal use of PPE

Familiarize yourself with this stuff!

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