8 March 2011

Q. When my usual nurse is unavailable, the practice manager will often allocate a trainee nurse to work with me. The trainee nurse, however, has not completed her course of Hep B vaccinations. Is it reasonable to request that chair-side support is only provided by somebody who has completed the course of three doses of the vaccine?

You are entirely right to be concerned about the situation that you describe. A dental nurse, whether qualified and registered or a trainee, working in a clinical setting should not only be Hepatitis B vaccinated but must have clear proof of antibody titre to confirm that s/he is appropriately protected from the virus.

The reasons for this are;

  • The individual must be protected themselves (to protect themselves and their partner/family).
  • Without vaccination the dental nurse runs the risk of becoming infected with hepatitis which could then put patients at risk which would be entirely contrary to GDC ethical guidance.

Anybody working with you at the chair side must therefore be able to demonstrate that their Hepatitis B immunisation has been completed and that they have the required antibody titre. If this is not the case they should not be assisting you in the dental surgery. You should discuss an alternative solution (perhaps agency staff) with the practice manager.

Dental Protection Limited is registered in England (No. 2374160) and is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Medical Protection Society Limited (MPS) which is registered in England (No.36142). Both companies use Dental Protection as a trading name and have their registered office at 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PS.

Dental Protection Limited serves and supports the dental members of MPS with access to the full range of benefits of membership, which are all discretionary, and set out in MPS’s Memorandum and Articles of Association. MPS is not an insurance company. Dental Protection® is a registered trademark of MPS.

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