Infectious Disease Disclosure by Dental Health Care Providers: A Patient's Right to Know
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Bloodborne pathogens (BBPs) such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) all pose a risk of transmission from dental health care providers to patients. The purpose of this research is to educate providers on the importance of informing patients of the risks associated with exposure-prone procedures (EPPs) performed by DHCWs positive for HIV or HBV. Three conditions are required for infectious disease transmission; 1) a DHCW must have a virus circulating in their blood, 2) an injury or condition must be present to allow direct exposure of body fluids, and 3) there must be a port of entry for the viral transmission to occur. Texas is the only state that requires DHCWs to disclose their infectious disease status to their patients and obtain written consent prior to performing EPPs. There are six documented incidents of HBV transmission and one case of HIV transmission from a DHCW to patients in the United States. Two of the HBV transmissions, and HIV transmission, lack an identifiable breach in infection control. Due to the long incubation periods of HBV and HIV, it is difficult to correlate a diagnosis of these viruses to a DHCW when the DHCW’s seropositive status is undisclosed. Future research is needed to assess the attitudes, knowledge, and compliance of DHCWs disclosing their infectious disease status to patients. It is the responsibility of DHCWs to know and understand the law, respect their patients, and ensure they are informed of any potential risks associated with EPPs.
Patterson, Melanie; Patzold, Kimberlynn; White, Abbigale (2020). Infectious Disease Disclosure by Dental Health Care Providers: A Patient's Right to Know. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from