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Dental groups seek federal approval to administer COVID-19 tests

Coalition says point-of-care testing will lower health risks, relieve emergency departments

April 22, 2020

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The Organized Dentistry Coalition is asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to “extend federal authorization for licensed dentists to conduct Food and Drug Administration-authorized, point-of-care testing” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an April 22 letter to Adm. Brett P. Giroir, M.D., HHS assistant secretary for health, the dental groups noted that in many states, licensed dentists can already conduct point-of-care testing within their scope of practice. They added that federal authorization to screen patients for COVID-19 would enable dentists everywhere to help “alleviate the testing burden on hospital emergency departments.”

The groups also noted an Occupational Safety and Health Administration finding that dental personnel have a very high risk of exposure to infected but asymptomatic patients.

“Given the very high risk of COVID-19 exposure in dental settings — and the value of keeping uninfected dental patients away from hospital emergency rooms — we urge you to use your discretionary authority to extend federal authorization for licensed dentists to conduct FDA-authorized point-of-care testing for COVID-19,” the groups said. “Doing so will reduce the need for dental patients to seek out other testing sites, except for appropriate medical referrals when indicated.”

For the latest updates about issues surrounding COVID-19, visit ADA.org/virus.