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ATD Safety in Dentistry – Flu Virus

With influenza activity peaking nationwide this season and with the emergence of a novel strain of coronavirus wreaking havoc in China, control of aerosol transmissible diseases (ATDs) is very important in the healthcare industry to minimize transmission to healthcare personnel. While the dental setting is not a high risk for ATD transmission, to ensure symptomatic patients do not expose dental healthcare personnel, dental offices must screen patients at reception for ATDs and then defer dental treatment for any ATD-symptomatic patients.

In California, Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Disease (ATD) Standard requires healthcare providers to follow certain precautions to prevent exposure to ATD’s.

Because dentists do not treat patients for symptoms caused by ATDs and do not perform any procedures that are considered “cough-inducing” by the CDC, California dentists are conditionally-exempt from ATD requirements so long as the do the following.

  1. Patients are screened for ATDs at reception, and treatment deferred if they are symptomatic.
  2. Screening procedures are documented as part of the office’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).
  3. The office follows state requirements and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for dental infection control
  4. Employees are trained on the screening and infection control procedures.

While only California dentists must comply with these specific requirements, these are prudent practices for all dentists. Additionally, under Federal OSHA’s General Duty Clause, dental employers outside of California could be cited for failing to protect employees from ATD exposure.


For our OSHA Review subscribers… The March/April 2018 issue of OSHA Review in Section X of your binder covers ATD requirements in California.

Since 1992, OSHA Review, Inc. has provided dental professionals with comprehensive programs to support regulatory compliance and infection control. We are a registered continuing education provider in the state of California, specializing in Dental Practice Act, infection control, and OSHA training.

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