American Dental Association discusses ethics of vaccine requirements for patients
The American Dental Association (ADA) has released ethical guidelines on the ethics of vaccines. These guidelines touch upon the ethics of denying an unvaccinated patient dental care.
The guidelines mention that dentists can implement policies requiring patients to be vaccinated, but provide ethical guidelines for them to do so. The guidelines state that if a dentist wants to require vaccination, this should be part of the informed consent process.
"While a dental practice might prefer that all patients be current on their vaccines, if planning to make this a requirement, it should be part of the informed consent process and even perhaps the initial intake process. This would allow patients who are uncomfortable with the requirement to consider receiving treatment elsewhere," the guidelines said.
The guidelines note that denying unvaccinated patients care could be seen as unethical, as it contradicts a dentist's duty to "protect a patient from harm."
"Refusing to treat a patient's oral health needs because they may be unwilling or unable to get vaccinated may actually cause that patient harm, especially if precautions can be put in place to mitigate the risks posed by the patient's vaccination status," the guidelines said.
However, the guidelines go on to state that precautions could be taken by dentists who choose not to treat unvaccinated patients to avoid patient abandonment.
"This will require that the dentist not cease 'treatment without giving the patient adequate notice and opportunity to obtain the service of another dentist,'" the guidelines said.
The guidelines go on to state that dentists should also inform patients of what procedures may follow in the event of COVID-19 exposure should they choose not to implement a vaccine requirement.
"The code requires dentists to 'immediately inform any patient who may have been exposed to blood or any other potentially infectious material in the dental office of the need for post-exposure evaluation and follow-up,'" the guidelines said.
Local dentist, Dr. Larry Dinopoulos tells 21 News that they currently have no intent to implement such policies.
Dinopoulos says that while he'd prefer his patients to be vaccinated he will not require it, stating that there's been no outbreak of COVID-19 among dentists and hygienists in the past two years.
Dinopoulos says that his office takes precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks, shields, gloves, gowns, surgical caps etc.