COVID-19 Update: Expanded scope of care for dentists in hospital settings
What has the Government done?
In response to the unprecedented pressure being placed on health system capacity by COVID-19, including increasing numbers of positive cases, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions, the Government of Ontario has issued two new regulations under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, 1990:
- O. Reg. 304/21: Is of limited application to dentistry. It authorizes Independent Health Facilities (as defined under the Independent Health Facilities Act, 1990) to redeploy staff to hospitals on a voluntary basis to help with capacity needs related to the third wave of COVID-19.
- O. Reg. 305/21: Applies to dentists practising in hospital settings. It authorizes hospital-based dentists (and other health care providers) to administer care that is normally outside of their regular scope of practice provided that certain conditions are met (for example: the care is necessary to respond to, prevent, or alleviate the effects of the pandemic; and the services provided are consistent with the duties that have been assigned or the privileges that have been granted by the hospital).
What does this mean for Ontario Dentists?
The RCDSO is anticipating that this new change will impact hospital-based dentists most directly. It will mean that dentists working in hospitals may be asked to take on new tasks to help with the fight against COVID-19. This may include administering vaccines or other tasks.
Hospitals will be responsible for managing the re-deployment and evaluating what tasks are suitable for dentists to perform.
When taking on new tasks, dentists must only do so in keeping with direction from the hospital.
What is the RCDSO’s position?
The RCDSO acknowledges the exceptional circumstances facing the healthcare system in the fight against COVID-19, and recognizes that dentists can play a key role. The College supports the Provincial Government’s efforts to alleviate health system pressure in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The RCDSO supports dentists working outside of their scope, in accordance with the new regulation, and under direction from hospitals. Dentists who do so will not be subject to RCDSO proceedings or action.
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