Dentaltown August 2020 - 10

professional courtesy
column

Testing-1, 2, 3 ...
Seven coronaviruses can infect humans: Four produce
mild symptoms and represent 15% of common colds
each year (the other 85% from rhinovirus), and the
other three can cause serious illness-MERS, SARS and
COVID-19. The spread of COVID-19, in both speed
and numbers, has blown the doors off the other two by
a mile. Right now, you're closer to someone who's been
a victim of COVID-19 than you are to Kevin Bacon.
Testing continues to be a critical issue that will
remain long after the drive-thru testing tents have been
packed away. Even when case numbers begin their steady
decline, the thought of a single sick team member can
be enough to keep you up at night; having one or two
members of your team sidelined for an extended period
will have a major impact on the practice.
Rapid testing will be a critical piece of your practice
moving forward. For example, a dentist gets a weekend
call from a team member who has a fever and doesn't
feel well. She tells him to get tested and stay home until
he knows he tests negative for COVID-19 or is healthy.
Nine days later, the test results come back positive.
By now that's old news, because the team member
has gone through the litany of common symptoms and
is already getting better. If someone he encountered
during that contagious, asymptomatic period wants
to get tested and is waiting more than five days to get
a result, it is meaningless. During the isolation time
waiting for test results, they'd know they were sick long
before they get test results.
The real value from testing is finding people who
have COVID-19 before they have symptoms.
One example of a portable, rapid, point-of-care
test is Abbott's ID Now. The toaster-sized machine
can provide results in less than 15
minutes. A small number of false
negatives have been reported, but
it's not clear if that was because of
poor sample collection or the timing
of the test relative to virus exposure.
I fully expect someone to get this
technology or something similar,
pack it in a car and drive around
all day, testing dental teams on a
regular schedule. Would you pay for a

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service like this? I would in a heartbeat. We have many
months ahead before a viable vaccine is available, who
knows how many months after that before you can get
vaccinated, and even more months before we know how
well it worked. Dental offices need to have rapid testing
in place for employees when it becomes available. I say
"when" because it's very difficult to find access to this
technology unless you play professional sports.
Some have suggested that if testing
can be done in our office, we should
also offer it to our patients. While
I could see the benefit if you had
a clinical employee test positive,
this option is a slippery slope.
One, I am not equipped to bill
patients' medical insurance, and
two, I don't want my office to
be a magnet for sick people in
search of a diagnosis.
On the other hand, enterprising dentists could find a way
to buy the equipment and make
testing a profit center by offering
tests on the weekends, followed
by a deep clean of the area before
returning to work on Monday.
Do you think testing your team
members in the office will be a reality
soon, or do you have any objections
to this concept? How much would
you pay for a service like this? Please
share your comments on this article
online at Dentaltown.com. ■

by Thomas Giacobbi, DDS, FAGD, editorial director, Dentaltown magazine

10

AUGUST 2020 // dentaltown.com

DT0820_ProfessionalCourtesy_AG.indd 10

7/20/20 2:42 PM


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Dentaltown August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Dentaltown August 2020

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Dentaltown August 2020 - Cover2
Dentaltown August 2020 - 1
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