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ADA offers steps to take if patient tests positive for COVID-19 after appointment

Guidance covers staff members with varying risk exposures

June 03, 2020

By Mary Beth Versaci

The American Dental Association has created a resource to help dentists manage the health of their team members if they are exposed to a patient who later tests positive for COVID-19 or has a household member test positive.

The document includes steps clinical and administrative staff members who had contact with the patient during the appointment should take depending on their risk exposure.

"It's important for dentists to consider, and plan for, the possibility that someone recently treated in the practice has a confirmed case of COVID-19," said Dr. Duc "Duke" Ho, vice chair of the ADA Council on Dental Practice. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued many interim recommendations to guide health care professionals through this pandemic. Relying on that information, and our best professional judgment, will help us navigate this situation and support our staff and our patients."

Staff determined to have experienced a higher risk exposure should actively monitor their health, isolate and refrain from working for 14 days after the exposure. Those who do not develop a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 may return to work with appropriate personal protective equipment.

Staff who experience symptoms should be tested, and those who test positive should immediately move to case management protocols outlined by the CDC and state and local public health departments. Those who test negative but experienced fever or other symptoms should still actively monitor their health, isolate and refrain from working for 14 days after the exposure.

Staff determined to have experienced a lower risk exposure may continue to work with appropriate personal protective equipment as long as their temperature is normal and they do not exhibit any other symptoms of COVID-19. They should actively monitor their health for 14 days after the exposure.

Staff who experience symptoms should be restricted from working and get tested. If they test negative and their symptoms resolve, they may continue to work while monitoring themselves for 14 days. If they test positive, they should immediately move to case management protocols outlined by the CDC and state and local public health departments.

More information about what to do if a staff member tests positive for COVID-19 is available at ADA.org/virus.

The CDC also offers guidance on infection control in health care settings at CDC.gov.