H1N1 flu NOT changing office protocols

A recent survey in RDH eVillage asked dental offices about what protocols are in place to help protect against swine flu. The answer: Not much.

In the September 9 issue of RDH eVillage, we asked readers some questions to determine if all the talk about the H1N1 virus was causing dental offices to change protocols.

Of the 89 respondents, 96.5% did not have a "swine flu protocol." We then asked that if offices have a "flu protocol," to tell us what it is. We received three written responses.

• "As dental professionals we all wear masks, gloves, and eye protection, we wash our hands regularly, and we clean all surfaces with Birex. We have discussed NOT shaking hands or hugging patients this winter, as we often do, because of the dangers of transmission."

• "Request each patient hand wash or use hand sanitizer prior to and post dental treatment. Direct them to the sink to wash, or to pump sanitizer into their hands. Discuss rationale for recommendation with patients."

• "Remind everyone of the importance of frequent hand washing. We place Purell throughout the office for patients. Also, all dental personnel must wear masks."

Interesting responses, considering that according to a CBS "60 Minute" report that aired October 18, the H1N1 virus is known to jump airborne across a 10-foot distance. So it appears that wearing masks and changing them frequently is a prudent protocol.

In Massachusetts, dentists have been asked to administer the H1N1 vaccine to their patients. Of the respondents, 98.9% are not administering the vaccine (this includes clinicians in and outside of Mass.), and 100% are not even considering offering the vaccine to patients.

In answer to the question, "Have you had the H1N1 flu vaccination?" 98.9% of the respondents have not. It's about split when asked, "Are you considering having the flu vaccine?" 58% said yes, and 42% said no.

Thank you for participating, and please consider your health and sphere of influence when treating patients who have a fever or other flu-type symptoms. Pause and ask yourself, is the production worth your health? A patient can always come back another day or reschedule if your office is pre-screening during courtesy confirmation calls. I wish you well in maintaining a strong immune system during this cold and flu season.

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