The “contagious” clinician
The many new airborne viral pathogens such as coronavirus (Covid-19), the novel variant (SARS-CoV-2), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory distress syndrome (MERS), have brought about a whole new avalanche of problems. These airborne pathogens are all highly contagious and transmissible, especially in the dental setting where the procedures and machinery used may generate enormous amounts of aerosol spray. This is an ideal vector for air/ droplet spread. Most dentists have implemented screening procedures to determine if their patients are well enough to be treated, and have begun wearing a full gamut of personal protective clothing (PPE). Nonetheless, a concern that has received limited attention in the literature is the “contagious clinician” who continues to work and who may pose a risk of infecting their patients. This paper explores both the patient’s rights to quality care in a safe and healthy environment, as well as the clinician’s rights to determine for themselves if they are mentally and
physically competent to practice. It also poses questions about whether health care practitioners can be mandated to be inoculated against potentially life-threatening and highly infectious agents.
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