Council against dentists in Covid wards
NEWDELHI: The Dental Council of India (DCI) has issued an advisory to all state governments, dean of dental colleges and state dental councils, asking them not to post dentists in coronavirus wards. The Union health ministry has asked states to make use of dental doctors in managing Covid-19 in the field, if required.
The DCI advisory said dentists should only be used for non-medical work, such as pre-screening, recording case history and identification of vulnerable age groups, community engagement, contact tracing and patient tracking, and health facility infection control management.
“…the DCI noticed that dentists are being posted in isolation wards to discharge their duties under COVID-19. The executive committee of the DCI, in its online meeting held on 13th May, 2020, has unanimously decided to issue an advisory to the effect no dentist/dental professional should be posted in isolation wards for COVID-19, which may put the patient at risk,” wrote secretary, DCI, Dr Sabyasachi Saha, in his advisory released on Wednesday.
The advisory lists nine duties a dentist may perform. “MBBS doctors will always be given first preference, but in case of any emergency situation then dentists can also be utilized as they have a medical background. We even have Ayush doctors in managing Covid-19 , dentists should be any day better equipped to handle patients not severely ill,” says Dr KK Talwar, former director, PGI-Chandigarh.
A senior dental expert in the government, however, said dentists should be deployed in Covid-19 wards only after training.
“When it comes to clinical skills, practice matters a lot. For example, an ICU nurse might be able to put an intravenous line quicker than a doctor. They should be trained as dentists don’t do these things on a regular basis,” he said, requesting not to be identified.
The All India Ophthalmological Society (AIOS) also also released its own set of guidelines.
It allows elective procedures, including cataract surgeries, in all areas except containment zones. It requires patients to acknowledge risk of infection at the treatment centre. “Since conjunctivitis is reported as part of the disease spectrum of Covid-19 in China, all patients with conjunctivitis should be Covid-19 suspects,” it read. It sought Covid-19 tests be administered on those donating corneas. “Tears have been shown to have the coronavirus,” said Dr Mahipal Sachdeva, president, AIOS.
“That [consent addresses apprehensions of community of doctors as anyone on Covid-19 duty is protected under the Epidemic Act. But otherwise there is no protection in medical profession. Even organ donors have to be tested. We have written to govt to increase testing,” said Dr Rajan Sharma, president, Indian Medical Association.