Conn. (WTNH) — The American Dental Association is now saying dentists can refuse to treat unvaccinated patients.
The news comes as more and more oral procedures are getting booked out into the new year.
The Association’s Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs said in a statement that is not unethical — per se — to turn unvaccinated patients away.
“With the types of communicable diseases (and variants) that are occurring in the population, dentists must consider the ethical implications of treating or not treating patients with active illness, accepting or declining new patients who have not been vaccinated, and dismissing or maintaining existing patients who have not been vaccinated,” the statement read in part. “The American Dental Association’s Principles of Ethics & Code of Professional Conduct is a useful guide in navigating these challenging questions: ‘The ethical dentist strives to do that which is right and good.’”
A local dentist News 8 spoke to said he believes doctors have an ethical obligation to treat even unvaccinated patients. But he also said medical professionals should use their own discretion when it comes to what goes on in their practices.
“I feel like it’s our ethical responsibility to see all patients,” Dr. Jameel Dhanani said.
Dhanani told News 8 he and his medical staff don’t ask their patients if they’re vaccinated. Instead, they treat every patient as if they are not protected against COVID-19.
“Our protocol is to treat everyone as though they’re unvaccinated so when people come to the office, our protocols will not change whether somebody is vaccinated or not.”
He has taken multiple precautions in seeing his patients, including leaving space between visits and seeing fewer patients in a day.
“In our office, we maintain social distancing, full screening before and ask patients who had been in contact with somebody with COVID-19 to delay their appointments for non-emergency care.“
Dhanani said dentists are also trained to deal with a variety of diseases that may come into their offices. For him, COVID-19 is no different.
“There was one time dentists did not wear gloves and had to learn how to wear gloves, so we are used to protecting ourselves and changing with the times and changing with science and if science brings new factors on the way we need to improve our practice, we are very eager to follow and protect ourself and our patients.”
One thing that has not changed under the dentist code of ethics is demonstrating honesty, compassion, kindness and integrity when it comes to working with patients regardless of their vaccination status.