Dental Health Services Response to COVID-19 in Norway
AuthorStangvaltaite-Mouhat, Lina; Uhlen, Marte-Mari Nordsetmoen; Skudutyte-Rysstad, Rasa; Hovden, Ewa Alicja Szyszko; Shabestari, Maziar; Ansteinsson, Vibeke Elise
We aimed to investigate the management of urgent dental care, the perception of risk and workplace preparedness among dental staff in Norway during the COVID-19 pandemic. An electronic questionnaire regarding the strictest confinement period in Norway (13 March–17 April 2020) was distributed to dental staff. Among the 1237 respondents, 727 (59%) treated patients, of whom 170 (14%) worked in clinics designated to treat patients suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. Out of them 88% (143) received training and 64% (103) simulation in additional infection prevention procedures, while 27 (24%) respondents reported deviation. In total, 1051 (85%) respondents perceived that dental staff had a high risk of being infected, 1039 (84%) that their workplace handled the current situation well, 767 (62%) that their workplace had adequate infection control equipment and 507 (41%) agreed that their workplace is well equipped to handle an escalation. Before an appointment, 1182 (96%) respondents always/often inquired per phone information if a patient experienced symptoms of COVID-19, and 1104 (89%) asked about a history of travel to affected areas. Twice as many patients on average per week were treated by phone than in a clinic. A lower proportion of dental staff in high incidence counties applied additional infection prevention measures compared to low and medium incidence counties. To conclude, urgent dental health care was managed relatively well in Norway. Additional training of the dental staff in adequate infection prevention and step-by-step procedures may be needed. These results may be used to improve the dental health service’s response to future outbreaks.