Dear Friends and Colleagues - I am posting the below email that I have sent to many people. I would love for you to do the same! We have many friends and families who will be affected by what the DOH is trying to do. Please "copy" and "paste" the below email message and send out to your personal email lists. You never know who this might touch! If you would like me to send it for you, forward the email addresses to: RHDFUND@Gmail.com. - Thank you!
Washington State Dental Hygienist - Friends & Colleagues - These issues affect you!
The Alliance of Dental Hygiene Practitioners and the Washington State Dental Hygiene Association would like to bring to your attention recent actions by the Washington State Department of Health directed against Washington Dental Hygienists. These actions will impact you and how you practice in the future even if you are working as an employee of a dentist.
Several of your colleagues are under investigation (and in some cases charges have been filed) by the Department of Health (DOH). Without compromising their cases and to respect their privacy we will not share individual names. The DOH is investigating a range of issues; applying topical anesthetic without supervision, and whether it is legal for a dental hygienist to own a dental hygiene practice/business or deliver care to patients in their own homes. You might not know that the LAW regulating dental hygiene practice states that a dental hygienist MAY be employed in dental offices and in other private and public settings"¦ not MUST be employed. The "must" is a recent interpretation by the DOH. Several dental hygienists who operate as independent practitioners and work in "non- traditional" settings to provide their patients with the best possible oral health care are the main focus of these investigations. HOWEVER "“ it affects YOU. If the DOH's interpretation of the law prevails in these cases even hygienists working in dental offices may be subject to tighter and unreasonable restrictions. Do you want to be able to help your patients by providing the best care possible in any setting of your choice using your current education and training? As licensed professionals we could be doing so much more to help people access preventive services!
Part of the focus of the DOH investigations is on the use of topical anesthetic. You may recall in the most recent issue of the Washington State Dental Hygiene Association Newsletter; the article entitled Update of Department of Health Investigations by Colleen Gaylord states;
"Of particular interest to all practicing hygienists is the current interpretation of the law pertaining to the use of topical anesthetics. The hygienists undergoing investigation have used topical anesthetic for patient comfort during procedures. This has been interpreted by the Department of Health as practicing outside our scope of practice "“ interpreting this as the same as administering local anesthesia by injection. The DOH has interpreted any use of topical anesthetic as requiring the close supervision of a dentist. Although topical anesthetics are available as on over-the-counter product, the DOH has defined them as a local anesthetic without any differentiation between topical and injectable. Currently the DOH believes that any practice setting requires close supervision for the use of topical"¦"
Let's put this in perspective. The DOH is saying that it is "ILLEGAL" for a hygienist (a licensed professional) to apply topical anesthetic for their patients comfort unless they are "under the close supervision of a dentist." Really? In non-traditional settings such as nursing homes or prisons, where supervision is NOT required, are dentists now going to be required to go "watch" a hygienist apply topical anesthetic? It is as absurd as saying that a mother must have a dentist come to her home at 3:30 in the morning to watch her apply Anbesol to their teething infants gums!
This "interpretation" of the law and the bullying tactics of the DOH will continue unless you
DO SOMETHING. You can write your legislator (see below links). You can ask your patients and friends to do the same. If they don't know what to say, draft a script for them to use. Go the website of www.gofundme.com/rdhfund
to donate to the Washington State RDH Legal Defense Fund to support those that are trying to make these changes. They are the ones on the front lines who will be challenging these issues in court for all of us and they really need your help!
The DOH will use all their legal resources against these dental hygienists. The real irony is our license fees are paying for this! Most dental hygienists don't have money for huge legal expenses. Do you?
The DOH wants to make sure things "stay as they always have." Is that what you want? We can use the skills and talents we have to change the face of oral health care in Washington! We have come too far to stop now! Help make it possible for you and future generations of dental hygienists by thinking "outside the box". Health care delivery is changing whether we welcome it or not! Help bring us closer to our goal of affordable and accessible preventive care for everyone and a future for hygienists to choose the way we want to care for those who need us most.
Go to the GoFundMe website to read the whole story: http://www.gofundme.com/rdhfund
Follow us on Twitter @rdhfund
Follow us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Alliance-of-Dental-Hygiene-Practitioners/322842861136092?ref=hl
Find your legislators: Online at www.leg.wa.gov.
The legislative hotline is 1-800-562-6000.
Washington State Dental Hygiene Association Newsletter "“ 3rd Quarter, Issue No. 155 Update of Department of Health Investigations by: Colleen Gaylord, Chair Regulation and Practice Committee