Covid-19 France: Tests and dentists

Can a dentist request a Covid-19 test before seeing a patient for an appointment?

22 May 2020

Yes, a dentist can request a patient to undergo a Covid-19 detection test before seeing them for an appointment but this practice is not recommended and any patient then refused to be seen by a dentist because they show positive can lodge a complaint.

However in addition to the sanitary measures, such as wearing a face mask and regular ventilation of the dentist room, some dentists have asked patients to take Covid-19 tests before consultations. This is notably the case in some health centres in Paris. A dentist interviewed by BFMTV said he was doing so for the “safety of the patient, the surgery assistants and practitioners,” as there were many carriers of the virus in the area.

The public health authority, the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS), does not recommend that every patient be asked for a test before an appointment. 

"The only test that can detect contagiousness is PCR”, a virological test performed by taking a nasal sample which makes it possible to detect whether someone is a carrier of the virus on the day of the test.

“It is not appropriate to perform a systematic PCR diagnostic test on all patients before an appointment at a dental surgery”, states the health authority.

Dentists do have the right, if they wish, to ask their patients to provide them with the results of a Covid-19 test. As this profession has the right to prescribe a test, dentists themselves can write a prescription for a test before treating patients.

But if a test is requested and proves positive, it does not mean that the patient will not be treated.

The patient has to be treated at “dedicated specific times” to avoid contact with others, a dentist and president of the Union of Women Dental Surgeons in France, Nathalie Delphin told the HuffPost.

A patient whose dentist who refuses to treat him or her because of a positive test are able to file a complaint.

The health authority has provided recommendations for dentists for the first phase of deconfinement.

They should use a standardised questionnaire with questions on age, chronic illness, or symptoms of fever, etc, to assess the state of patients before each appointment.

They have to classify the patients in four different categories: group A for symptom-free patients who are not at risk, group B for symptom-free patients who are at risk, group C for symptom-free patients who have been in contact with a case of Covid-19, and group D for patients who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 or who have symptoms. This aims to help them to minimise the risk of contamination without asking the patient to take a test. 

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