HARRISBURG – Senator Scott Martin (R-13) is demanding that the Wolf Administration revise restrictions that are preventing dentists from serving patients who have a dental emergency.
Under current restrictions created by the Wolf Administration, dentists can only treat emergency patients if their facilities include a negative pressure room and other accommodations. Unfortunately, very few dentists – or even hospitals – meet this criteria.
“I think we all understand the importance of delaying elective dental procedures like cleanings and routine check-ups until COVID-19 is under control, but patients who have legitimate emergencies need to be treated by a professional,” Martin said. “I have talked to dentists who have had patients calling them in tears from the excruciating pain of a dental emergency, and there is nothing they can do to help in their dental offices. If businesses like Starbucks and other restaurants are deemed essential, can prepare our takeout orders and can continue to operate under the current disaster declaration without a negative pressure room, then dentists certainly should be able to treat patients who have legitimate medical emergencies. We are the only state to have this ridiculous restriction on dentists.”
While restricting the ability of dentists to treat patients, the Wolf Administration is encouraging dental practices to use telemedicine for diagnoses and to prescribe antibiotics and opioids to patients in need. Although this does help some patients, it does nothing to address individuals who desperately need other treatment to prevent life-threatening complications.
“The last time I checked, you can’t remove an abscessed tooth or perform a root canal through telemedicine, and prescribing opioids to patients without being able to conduct a thorough exam can end up creating more problems than it solves,” Martin said. “In reality, many patients are left with no other choice than to visit the ER at a time when we expect a serious surge in the number of critically ill patients. This not only creates new concerns for the patients themselves, but also dangerously diverts attention from the needs of other patients. The are hospitals calling dentists to help with individuals who show up to their emergency rooms and the dentists can’t help. That is unacceptable.”
Martin demanded that the Wolf Administration immediately deem emergency dental care to be considered an essential service and relax restrictions that require a negative pressure room to treat patients.
“The Administration has done a lot of things that I agree with to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and they deserve credit for that. We all have to work together, and that means identifying and correcting mistakes that have been made in the rush to contain the coronavirus,” Martin said. “We have tried to communicate with the Administration on this, but the time to talk is over. This restriction on emergency dental care is hurting more people than it helps, and that should be the standard by which all of these regulations and restrictions should be judged. These dental emergencies can become life-threatening emergencies and we can’t allow that to happen.”
CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535