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AHRQ Releases Patient Safety Primer for Dentistry

On August 7, 2020, the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)[1] released a Patient Safety Primer[2] on safety in dental settings with respect to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The outbreak of COVID-19 has effectively shut down approximately 198,000 active dental practitioners in the United States. As individual states begin to resume dental care, discussion has centered on how to provide safe oral health care.

Given the nature of the virus and how easily it may be dispersed during common dental procedures, the widespread transmission of COVID9 places both dental healthcare personnel (DHCP) and patients at high risk for becoming infected and falling ill with COVID-19. Entitled COVID-19 and Dentistry: Challenges and Opportunities for Providing Safe Care, the Primer up-to-date recommendations for communications, protocols, and physical measures must be in place to resume safe patient care. Specifically, the Primer covers the following topics:

  • Infection control and prevention in the dental office setting
  • Access for patients needing oral healthcare
  • Re-configuring dental practice
  • Federal and professional guidance and resources for the dental community

The primer concludes with key policy and research priorities to support safe and effective dental care during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, including estimating the costs and benefits of expanded PPE use (and other changes in dental practice workflows), developing and testing innovative approaches to minimize aerosol generation during dental procedures, testing and validating tele-dentistry models, and evaluating alternative dental workforce models, such as dental therapists.

[1] Charged with improving the safety and quality of America’s health care system, AHRQ develops the knowledge, tools, and data needed to improve the health care system and help Americans, healthcare professionals, and policymakers make informed health decisions.

[2] Patient Safety Primers are guides for health care professionals on key concepts in patient safety to put into action in hospitals and healthcare settings. Each Primer defines a specific topic and provides detailed background information on its epidemiology and context, as well as current resources and links.


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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