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Oklahoma bill to require permits for dental assistants

May 31, 2013
A bill that would create the first oral surgery dental assistant permit in the country and require all dental assistants to have permits is awaiting the governor's signature.

By Shannon Muchmore, Tulsa World Staff Writer
May 31, 2013

A bill that would create the first oral surgery dental assistant permit in the country and require all dental assistants to have permits is awaiting the governor's signature.

Senate Bill 684 comes months after Tulsa oral surgeon Dr. W. Scott Harrington was found to be using unsanitary equipmentand poor infection-control procedures that could have exposed more than 7,000 patients to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Lesson learned: How the dental assistants at the heart of the Tulsa oral surgeon fiasco affect you and your career
Exclusive interview with Susan Rogers of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, on Dr. Scott Harrington

Harrington said his assistants were in charge of sterilization procedures at his practice, according to a complaint from the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry.

His assistants were also performing IV sedation, which still would be forbidden under the proposed law. They could face up to four years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine if found guilty of practicing dentistry without a license.

Read the rest of the article from the Tulsa World.

DentistryIQ asked the American Dental Assistants Association for their thoughts on this proposed bill. Here is their statement...

As indicated in the recently published American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) position statement regarding "Education and Credentialing of Dental Assistants", ADAA supports education and credentialing of all dental assistants. Therefore, ADAA is very pleased that Oklahoma has proposed legislation as an appropriate step in helping to assure patient protection for those receiving dental care. The scope of practice and many responsibilities delegated to dental assistants have changed dramatically over recent years. However, many states require little or no education and/or credentials for dental assistants performing multiple signifcant procedures on patients. Therefore, assurances need to be in place to demonstrate that individuals performing many preparatory and chairside procedures possess the appropriate background and clinical competency needed to safely perform a variety of delegated functions. As ADAA is the Association representing dental assistants nationally, it is the position of ADAA that all dental assistants be required to complete formal education and possess credentials to document an understanding and mastery of pertinent information and demonstrated competency of clincal skills to help assure the protection and safety of the public and the provision of the highest standards of quality care.

ADAA is also very pleased that the Immedite Past Chair of the Oklahoma State Board of Dentistry provided the opportunity for ADAA President Breen to speak about the position statement during the open session of the recent Board meeting held during the Oklahoma Dental Association Annual Session. The Oklahoma Dental Assistants Association meets jointly with the Oklahoma Dental Association annually to provide continuing education and conduct business of the respective groups. ADAA recognizes and appreciates the long standing joint collaborations of the two groups and hopes that the close working relationship continues to flourish as the Associations move forward. also asked the Dental Assisting National Board for their thoughts. Here is their statement...

As evidenced by our mission, the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) believes in promoting public safety, elevating the dental assisting profession, and supporting the dental community. DANB views licensure as an issue best addressed at the state level; however, DANB supports mandatory education and credentialing of dental assistants and believes it is in the public and profession’s best interest for these requirements to be as uniform across states as possible. DANB encourages other states to follow Oklahoma’s lead and consider whether their statutes and regulations provide an adequate framework for the safe delegation of duties to dental assistants working in an oral surgery setting. A number of other states do issue permits or certificates to dental assistants authorizing them to perform a variety of duties related to anesthesia and sedation, which may include initiating and removing intravenous access lines, adding medications to intravenous lines, and monitoring patients under sedation. For example, California has a dental sedation assistant permit; Oregon has an anesthesia assistant state certification; and Washington will soon have a dental anesthesia assistant state certification. The state resources page of DANB’s website outlines the requirements dental assistants must meet to perform these duties. Since the new Oklahoma law continues to define “administering anesthetics” as an act that is regarded as the practice of dentistry, it will be interesting to see how the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry will define the scope of practice for the new oral maxillofacial surgery assistant permit holders.