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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.”

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