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What is changing in your clinical guidance?

29 July 2022

Contemporary practice is never static. Dr Kiran Keshwara, Dentolegal Consultant at Dental Protection, and Kristin Trafford-Wiezel, Case Manager at Dental Protection, outline four recent changes that practitioners need to be aware of.

Infection control and prevention resources

What has changed and what does this mean for contemporary practice?

The Dental Board of Australia have introduced new resources around infection control and prevention. These new resources came into effect from 1 July 2022, and effectively replace the Guidelines on infection control. The removal of the original code does not remove a practitioner’s requirement to practise safely.

The resources, which are similar to resources that can be found for record-keeping, include a self-reflective tool, a factsheet and a set of frequently asked questions.

The Dental Board advises that for the majority of practitioners it will not change the way they practise and care for their patients. Further, the Dental Board expects us to practise keeping in mind guidelines and standards, such as:

  the Code of Conduct

•  the Guidelines in relation to blood-borne viruses

  our CPD requirements

•  local, state, territory and federal legal requirements in relation to infection control.

The self-reflective tool highlights a range of aspects of infection prevention and control, such as pre-treatment screening, handwashing, PPE, management of sharps injuries and blood exposures, communication and antimicrobial stewardship.

Since the Dental Board no longer prescribes specific practice guidelines, the onus lies on the clinician to ensure that they are exercising their professional judgement, taking a risk-based approach, being aware of any laws which may apply to them, and practising in a safe manner.

Code of Conduct

This roadmap document, which underpins the expectations on behaviour of every practitioner, has been updated.

Did you know that you have a Code of Conduct? This code was previously developed by the 12 National Boards under section 39 of the National Law to protect the public. The recently retired version states its purpose was to assist and support practitioners to deliver effective regulated health services within an ethical framework.

The new Code of Conduct came into effect on 29 June 2022 and now also considers the perspective of patients. The new Code of Conduct is a principles-based document that gives important guidance to practitioners about the National Boards’ expectations of their professional conduct; it also outlines the conduct that the public can expect from health practitioners.

The Code of Conduct sets out these expectations under 11 principles of conduct, with each principle accompanied by practical information on how to apply it in practice.

These principles are:

•  Put patients first – safe, effective, and collaborative practice

•  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety

  Respectful and culturally safe practice for all

  Working with patients

  Working with other practitioners

  Working withing the healthcare system

  Minimising risk to patients

•  Professional behaviour

  Maintaining practitioner health and wellbeing

  Teaching, supervising, and assessing

  Ethical research.

Please ensure that you visit the Dental Board’s Code of Conduct hub, which has information and resources for both health practitioners, as well as the public. These include FAQs, case studies and translations of the Code of Conduct, to ensure access to this important information for all, supporting good patient care within an ethical framework and helping to keep the public safe.

The Australian Schedule of Dental Services and Glossary – 13th Edition

The 13th edition of The Australian Schedule of Dental Services and Glossary came into effect on 1 July 2022. The Glossary is developed by the ADA and this edition includes a number of changes from the previous version – with amendments made to the wording/descriptors of over 100 item numbers, 31 new item numbers and nine deleted item numbers.

New sections involving Implant Prostheses Repairs and Maintenance, Maxillofacial Prosthetics and Teledentistry have also been added, and in consultation with the ATO, further clarification around the item numbers to which GST may or does apply has also been included.

It is important that as clinicians we are aware of and understand the changes made, especially to those items numbers that we use, frequently or infrequently, as they may have changed or been removed, or another item may now be more appropriate.

Provider numbers – what are they and what’s new?

A provider number is a site-specific identification number, unique to an eligible health professional, which enables that health professional to claim or bill on behalf of a patient for services provided to that patient, and to refer for or request Medicare services.

As of 1 July 2022, dental hygienists, dental therapists and oral health therapists will now be eligible to apply for a provider number and be able to claim Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) services, only within their scope of practice.

These changes usher in a new and exciting time for this group of dental professionals, moving to bring claiming eligibility in line with the Scope of Practice registration standard and guidelines that came into effect 1 July 2020, recognising that all dental practitioners, across all divisions of dentistry, are responsible for their decisions, treatment and the advice they provide.

Currently implementation and use of provider numbers for dental hygienists, dental therapists and oral health therapists is optional. For those wishing to know more, please visit Services Australia for more detailed information on eligibility and applying.

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