MDDUS has been contacted by a number of associate dental members (dental hygienists/therapists and orthodontic therapists) being asked to assist practices with online and phone triage of patients.
The GDC’s Scope of practice states that dental hygienists and therapists can “diagnose and treatment plan within their competence”. Triaging patients would fall into this category but staff should always work within their scope of practice, following established algorithms when providing advice. Such work should be overseen by a dentist for immediate support in out-of-scope advice/enquiries. Associate dental members can provide advice on analgesia where appropriate, ensuring that the patient’s medical history is reviewed and any current medications are assessed, in particular any relevant asthma and gastro-intestinal problems. Decisions regarding potential administering of antibiotics should be reviewed by a dentist who can provide an appropriate prescription.
Orthodontic therapists should not be triaging patients, as this is not within their scope of practice as defined by the GDC, but they can speak to the patient/parent and gather information for the orthodontist to make a diagnosis and prescribe a treatment plan.
Inform MDDUS immediately if you are returning to work in any capacity, either in private practice or in support of NHS staff in hospitals/local urgent treatment centres. Employers should note that furloughed staff cannot be asked to provide such services for the practice under the terms of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.