While we know that there are sample consent or “waiver” forms available from various sources on the internet, from a legal standpoint, CDA and TDIC advise against using a separate COVID-19 form. Instead, you should be obtaining basic informed consent for the specific treatment, as you ordinarily would.
An informed consent form, by itself, is insufficient to shield a medical provider from liability, and creating one specific to COVID-19 may provide a dentist with a false sense of security. Rather, an informed consent form is designed to be a part of a process of obtaining a patient’s agreement, following an explanation and discussion of why treatment is needed, as well as the risks of and alternatives to a procedure. The best approach is to have a full and honest discussion with the patient as to the procedure, the alternatives, why the treatment is immediately necessary (or unnecessary as the case may be) and the infection control protocols the dentist and staff are utilizing to protect the patient. The documentation should also include the specific steps taken to minimize risk and maximize protections for everyone, including patients, the dentists and dental staff. These steps include proper screening of patients (e.g., temperature, recent travel, recent tests for or exposure to COVID-19) and following all current OSHA, CDC and any other credible organizations and entities for updated guidelines for increased infection control measures. We recommend that the practice maintain and retain detailed documentation of these safety protocols.
As always, a note in the chart indicating the patient was given an opportunity to ask questions and that all questions were answered is exceedingly helpful, especially in this setting.
This does not constitute legal advice. TDIC recommends checking with legal counsel regarding specific employment scenarios. Feel free to contact TDIC’s risk management department if you need an attorney referral.