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Should Dental Employees Be Tested For COVID-19?

As the COVID-19 pandemic remains a concern for most people, the level of it could not be more elevated amongst those in the healthcare field. Those who are responsible for handling human resources in the dental field will be working with freelance dentists.

At a time when the economy is benefiting from work-from-home opportunities and the like, it’s important for dental office HR to ask the right kind of questions (especially about how dentists are handling COVID-19).

The first question is should dental employees be tested for COVID-19? And if so, how often. While the healthcare field is among one of the high-risk places where exposure to the virus can happen, it’s a matter of what employees do in their spare time after office hours.

Dentists and dental hygienists who are working on a freelancing basis must be aware of whether or not if any COVID-19 testing should be done because of the high likelihood of coming in contact with people (whether it’s patients, office staff, or vendors). With that said, let’s dive a little deeper into the question.

Should Testing Be Done for Dental Office Employees?

Short answer: yes. Considering that dentists are part of the healthcare field, nothing could be more dangerous to their own health (and the health of their patients) than the possibility of getting exposed to COVID-19 regardless of who may have it.

A patient may have the virus and is asymptomatic (and vice versa). However, testing for COVID-19 won’t be easy. And we’ll explain here in the next question.

Is Testing Required for Dental Offices?

While it is not required for dental offices to perform COVID-19 tests, the old adage of “better safe than sorry comes to mind”. Testing for COVID-19 won’t come easy, but not for just this reason alone.

No dental employer will have an automatic right to test employees for COVID-19. Nor can they require a test for antibodies. If tests must be done, the procedure should be within any legal compliance.

These tests must also be reliable and effective. Therefore, it is important for dental offices to have a plan to ensure that testing must be done using the right kind of test. The process itself must be documented (which also includes written consent from the employee getting tested).

In the event of a potential positive, confidentiality must be enforced. And there must be a plan on how to handle a positive case (once confirmed).

Who Pays for the Expenses of a COVID-19 Test?

One of the other challenges that employers will face is the financial aspect of these tests. As for who pays for it, it will depend on some factors. If an employee gets tested on their own accord, the employer or dental office may not pay for any expenses.

However, dental offices that require a COVID-19 test must pay any out of pocket expenses. These expenses for COVID-19 testing will also include employee wages as well.

Tips On COVID-19 Testing

Whether you are hiring freelance dentists or dental assistants, it’s important to know these tips so you are able to put together a plan on how to handle COVID-19 and any potential exposures. With that in mind, here are some tips you should follow:

  • Let your new hires and current employees know of the location of where COVID-19 tests are being performed. Be aware of the kind of testing procedures they use

  • Familiarize yourself with one or two independent labs that can perform COVID-19 testing and processing of results

  • If an employee is getting tested, have that employee inform the healthcare facility to send a bill to the dentist’s office.

  • If your office does not provide health insurance to employees or freelancers, do not give them the burden of having to pay for the COVID-19 test using their personal insurance. You will need to pay 100 percent of the expense

Final Thoughts

Keeping your dental office safe during the COVID-19 pandemic should be a priority. Especially when your employees will always be in contact with several people throughout the day. Testing is not necessarily required, but it should always be encouraged.

While there are challenges that can be worked around, it is possible for every dental office to stay safe so long as they follow the plans and protocol in place. If you need new talent to help around the office during these concerning times, we can help.

Check out Stynt and see who you can find as your next freelance dental assistant. You can start by filling out the form or downloading the app right now.


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