PA Department Of Health Order Effectively Closes Dental Practices Until Further Notice

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The PA Department of Health (DOH) issued an Order, effective March 22, 2020, that directs all facilities to cease all dental treatment except for emergencies provided in accordance with very strict physical environment, filtration and sanitization guidelines.  See the full Order here:  PA DOH Order Restricting Dental Emergency Procedures

This Order appears to supersede Gov. Wolf’s prior order on March 19, 2020 permitting dental practices to stay open for non-elective procedures and care.

The Pennsylvania Dental Association is currently demanding clarification from the DOH regarding this Order, including, but not limited to, how dentists are to avoid abandoning patients in need of emergency treatment, and how this Order will be enforced.  Very few private practice offices in the state will be able to meet the very strict guidelines set forth in the Order for performing these emergency procedures.  Therefore, it is likely that many practices will need to completely close due to this Order.

Note that the Order does permit dentists to conduct teledentistry with patients experiencing “true emergencies related to pain/infection, as they might be treated with antibiotics and pain medication.”   PA Gov. Wolf has already authorized the provision of telehealth in Pennsylvania by dentists and other licensed professionals, provided that it is performed in accordance with federal law, including, but not limited to, the guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding HIPAA and telehealth during the Nationwide Public Health Emergency (see HIPAA COVID-19 Telehealth Guidance).  Accordingly, a practice with teledentistry capabilities may stay open under this Order to treat emergencies related to pain and infection through teledentistry.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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