COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

In this unprecedented health crisis, TDIC is making every effort to ease dentists’ burdens and provide useful information available to help guide them.

Below are some resources to better serve policyholders during this difficult and uncertain time.

TDIC will continue to provide information and updates about COVID-19 on this page. Your state dental association may also provide trusted guidance and resources.

 
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

TDIC continues to receive inquiries from TDIC policyholders on how to assess and manage the risk of potential exposure.

What policies and practices should my office follow to minimize the chance of exposure?

Interim CDC guidance for businesses and employers recommends that:

  • Employers place posters that encourage coughing and sneezing etiquette and proper hand hygiene at the entrance to their workplace and in other areas where the posters are likely to be seen.
  • Clean and disinfect public areas frequently, including door handles, chairs and bathrooms.
  • Employees who report symptoms of acute respiratory illness should stay home and not return to work until they are free of symptoms for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-relieving or symptom-altering medications.
  • If an employee appears to be sick upon arrival to work, they should be separated from other employees and sent home immediately.
  • Employees should cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using an appropriate disinfectant product.
  • Employees should wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be used.

Does the patient need to sign a separate informed consent acknowledging that they could contract the virus simply by undergoing dental treatment during the pandemic?

While we know that there are sample consent or “waiver” forms available from various sources on the internet, from a legal standpoint, CDA and TDIC advise against using a separate COVID-19 form. Instead, you should be obtaining basic informed consent for the specific treatment, as you ordinarily would.

An informed consent form, by itself, is insufficient to shield a medical provider from liability, and creating one specific to COVID-19 may provide a dentist with a false sense of security. Rather, an informed consent form is designed to be a part of a process of obtaining a patient’s agreement, following an explanation and discussion of why treatment is needed, as well as the risks of and alternatives to a procedure. The best approach is to have a full and honest discussion with the patient as to the procedure, the alternatives, why the treatment is immediately necessary (or unnecessary as the case may be) and the infection control protocols the dentist and staff are utilizing to protect the patient. The documentation should also include the specific steps taken to minimize risk and maximize protections for everyone, including patients, the dentists and dental staff. These steps include proper screening of patients (e.g., temperature, recent travel, recent tests for or exposure to COVID-19) and following all current OSHA, CDC and any other credible organizations and entities for updated guidelines for increased infection control measures. We recommend that the practice maintain and retain detailed documentation of these safety protocols.

As always, a note in the chart indicating the patient was given an opportunity to ask questions and that all questions were answered is exceedingly helpful, especially in this setting.

Please note:

This does not constitute legal advice. TDIC recommends checking with legal counsel regarding specific employment scenarios. Feel free to contact TDIC’s risk management department if you need an attorney referral.

What if a patient claims to believe they acquired the coronavirus in my practice? Will TDIC defend me?

TDIC can’t make a blanket coverage determination, and a claim would have to be filed for TDIC to fully evaluate coverage for your particular case.

You should notify your professional liability carrier immediately to advise of a potential claim. Regardless of whether a patient can conclusively demonstrate that they acquired the virus from your practice, you should consult with your professional liability carrier to develop a plan to address the patient’s concerns. The best approach may simply be to demonstrate the appropriate infection control procedures the office has taken and to have further discussion with the patient to determine when they first developed symptoms.

Whenever you are in doubt about how to handle a situation, TDIC’s Risk Management analysts can work with you to find a solution. To schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced risk management analyst, visit tdicinsurance.com/RMconsult or call 800.733.0633.

What steps should we be taking during the pandemic when a patient presents for treatment?

When a patient presents to the office:

  • Provide a face mask if the patient is not wearing one.
  • Take a temperature reading to verify the absence of a fever (any temperature above 100.4 F).
  • Reconfirm the screening questions by observation and verbally with the patient. We recommend using a screening form like CDA’s patient screening form, which is regularly updated with the most recent CDC guidelines.
  • Complete necessary documentation and discussion, such as health history and planned treatment and associated informed consent form(s). Have the patient sign a statement agreeing to notify the dental practice if within two weeks of treatment they test positive for COVID-19.
  • • A dental practice has a legal and ethical obligation to inform patients if a staff member they have been in “close contact” (within 6 feet of an infected individual for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period, without wearing PPE that is NIOSH or CDC approved (i.e., not cloth masks) has tested positive for COVID-19.

If the local department of health requests my patients’ names and phone numbers in order to perform contact tracing, am I obligated to provide this information?

Yes, you can comply. However, make sure you follow HIPAA and provide the “minimum amount of information” necessary to accomplish and adhere to the request.

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Contact TDIC

800.733.0633
[email protected]

For policyholders in Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Tennessee or Washington, call 800.452.0504.

TDIC Endorsed Brokers

TDIC Insurance Solutions
California, Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota and Nevada
Phone:800.733.0633
Email: [email protected]

Montana, Oregon and Tennessee
Phone: 800.452.0504
Email: [email protected]

Conrad-Houston Insurance (Alaska)
Phone: 907.276.7667
www.chialaska.com

Idaho Dentist Insurance Agency (IDIA)
Phone: 208.371.3052
Email: [email protected]
www.theisda.org

Jerry Hay, Inc. (Hawaii)
Phone: 808.521.1841

Mid-Atlantic Insurance Resources (New Jersey)
Phone: 877.476.4588
Email: [email protected]
www.midatlanticir.com

Pennsylvania Dental Association Insurance Services (PDAIS)
Phone: 717.234.6530
www.pdais.com

Washington State Dentists’ Insurance Agency (WDIA)
Phone: 800.282.9342
www.wdiains.com