Identifying ill patients should be seemingly straightforward, but for some, there can still be a certain level of ambiguity.
Everyone should’ve learned about it in grade school: If you’re sick, stay home. Unfortunately, there are times when patients don’t heed that advice and show up for their scheduled visit, putting the practice’s staff and the other patients at risk. What should be done if a visibly ill patient shows up for his or her visit? Send him or her home.
“Per the CDC, you’re not supposed to see them,” says Dr. Lisa Kane, DMD, a dental consultant at Dental Office Compliance of New England. “I know that’s not what most people do, but you’re not supposed to treat them. It’s dangerous for the staff and for other patients. If there’s someone in the office who’s elderly or immunocompromised, it’s also dangerous for that patient because they could get an infection. I tell people that if you have someone who’s contagious in any sort of way, send them back—unless it’s an emergency. If it’s an emergency, then find some place that has proper airborne precautions, like a hospital.”
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