Dentists & H1N1 Flu

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Dentists & H1N1 flu(November 25, 2009) H1N1 flu really hit the US in the fall of 2009, and one in four dentists (24%) have
responded by making changes. When the CDC declared a health emergency in April, 12% of dentists told us their practice had made changes as a result of
swine flu.

Now, another 15% of dentists are considering making changes. But fully 61% aren’t planning on it — just as we found last April. (Read last April’s Flu Pandemic Means Infection Control Is Important)

In addition:

  • 10% of dentists say one or more of their team members have had H1N1
  • 10% of dentists have had the H1N1 vaccine
  • 48% would like to get the H1N1 vaccine
  • 43% do not plan to get the H1N1 vaccine

Patients love hand sanitizer

  • “We ask all our patients to either wash their hands or use the hand sanitizer upon entering the waiting room. So far, we've had 100% positive feedback and many thanks."
  • “We placed hand sanitizer with a sign to please use in good health upon arrival to the office.” (Illinois)

Appointment scheduling during flu season

  • “Just keeping a better picture on patients who want appointments earlier or at a specific time or date. If a patient is ill, we can attempt to move another patient into that date/time they have initially requested.” (Maryland dentist)

Universal precautions, anyone?

  • “Using universal precautions there should be no changes needed. If so I wouldn't go to that office.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “No planned changes, just universal precautions.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “We will keep up with our same disinfection and cleaning techniques as they are applicable to H1N1 as well as colds, etc. (wash hands often, disinfect telephones, door handles, etc.)."

The dental office isn’t the problem

  • “I'm concerned about the swine flu in general, but I don't think it poses an increased risk in the dental office.” (West Virginia dentist)

Thoughts on the H1N1 vaccine

  • “The vaccine is in short supply, so I will save it for higher risk people.” (Texas dentist)
  • “Obama's government has completely failed us all in distribution of the vaccine- not avail in New Jersey to health care professionals, but available for prisoners?” (General dentist)

Ask patients to inform team of symptoms

  • "I placed a reception room notice for patients to inform us about their current status of flu symptoms, i.e. elevated temperature, onset of breathing problems.” (Wyoming dentist)

Screen patients for illness

  • “Patient screening: postponing appointments for patients with flu and flu-like symptoms.” (California dentist)
  • “The primary change we’ve made is to ask pts not to come in if they feel at all ill. Usually we'll leave it to them to decide if they feel up to the treatment as we are protected with our masks and gloves."

Don’t treat patients with fevers

  • “Usually we accept patients that are sick as long as not coughing. We will no longer treat patients with a fever.” (Florida dentist)
  • “Patients with fever are rescheduled. Patients with confirmed swine flu are rescheduled 10 days after the confirmation."

It’s still just the flu

  • “Not worried. Stats show that this is not any more virulent than regular flu and stats definitely show that vaccine is and has not shown to decrease contracting it. Bunch of hype. This flu is more problematic for people with lung abnormalities so they could be possible candidates for vaccination. Good luck with that.” (General dentist)

Don’t worry, I’ll be fine

  • “Not personally, as I am in my late 50s, but I am somewhat concerned about my teenagers.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “Not worried. If it happens I'm healthy enough to survive it. No concerns here.” (Indiana dentist)
  • “No worries. I think it is like any other flu."


Note: Survey sample included 62 respondents.

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