Policy on Blood-borne Infectious Diseases
For TCC Dental Hygiene Clinic Faculty, Staff, Prospective and Current Students, and Patients / Clients
Tarrant County College is dedicated to providing access to quality educational programs regardless of disability and within available resources. The College recognizes the serious implications that the spread of communicable disease has on the health, safety and welfare of the student, faculty, staff, and general public. Therefore, the College is committed to ensuring that each employee, applicant/student and patient/client be provided with a safe and healthy environment. This communicable disease policy is based on current, scientific, and medical information. It is also consistent with guidelines issued by the National Center for Disease Control (CDC), OSHA standards, and other national/state health related organizations’ recommendations. Since scientific information is prone to frequent change, the College will update this policy annually, or as necessary, as new information on infectious diseases becomes available.
Admission, Employment and Patient / Client Treatment
Persons who are seropositive for HIV/AIDS, HBV or other infectious diseases will not be excluded from admissions, employment, patient/client treatment or access to the institution’s services or facilities because of their health status. They will be provided with all reasonable accommodations unless a medically based evaluation determines that exclusion or restriction is necessary for the welfare of the individual, other members of the institution, patients/clients or affiliates (patient care community).
In the instance when a member of the College community has tested HIV positive or diagnosed with AIDS, the College will consider all obtainable facts, medical information and legal advice in determining the appropriate course of action to take. All situations will be reviewed on a case by case basis considering any recent legislation or health reports. This policy has been developed to provide a fair and equitable method of responding to AIDS within Tarrant County College. All individuals with HIV/AIDS, HBV or other infectious diseases are expected to seek expert advice concerning their health circumstances and are obligated legally and ethically to conduct themselves in a responsible and safe manner on campus as a protection to the College community.
The patient consent form contains the following information:
I understand that my treatment in the Dental Hygiene Clinic at Tarrant County College may expose students and employees to my blood and/or body fluids. If any student or employee is accidentally exposed to my blood/body fluids, I agree to undergo testing for blood pathogens (Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS). I also agree to have the testing agency report the results of my test to the Dental Hygiene Director at Tarrant County College. I realize that the College recognizes the importance of confidentiality and will only release my test results to those persons having need to know. I understand I must seek the services of an approved physician, selected by the College, for testing purposes and will be responsible for all costs incurred from such services.
Reporting Infectious Status
Any student or employee who knows, or has reasonable basis for believing that he or she is infected with HIV/AIDS, HBV or other infectious disease which may pose a threat to others, and whose curriculum or job requires performance of patient care procedures which may prove exposed, has an obligation to share that information. Disclosure will allow the College to protect the welfare of employees, students and patients/clients from the spread of disease, and we can also respond appropriately to the individuals’ health and employment/educational needs.
Students, faculty and staff of Tarrant County College identified as having HIV/AIDS, HBV will not be barred from working, teaching, attending classes or participating in College activities unless it is determined that he/she is unable or unwilling to conduct themselves in an ethical, responsible and safe manner on campus. All decisions will be made on a case by case basis.
Individuals in need of assistance will be referred to counseling services. The individual will receive the College’s blood-borne policy and the Aids in the Workplace brochure that provides information regarding the availability of further assistance.
Confidentiality / Disclosure
The College recognizes the importance of protecting the greatest event possible, the confidentiality and privacy of any employee/student found to have HIV/AIDS, HBV or other infectious disease. This information will be handled with care and sensitivity and will be kept confidential. The College also has a responsibility to protect employees, students and patients/clients from the harmful acts or conditions of its employees/students. Complete confidentiality will be protected to the highest degree, however may not be guaranteed in such cases that would prevent responsible actions.
A personal physician in keeping with the current standards, requirements and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) must routinely assess all students/employees who have a known infectious disease. An evaluation of the individual will include the physician’s statement of the individual’s susceptibility to infectious diseases often encountered when performing the objective/job skills required for the individual’s curriculum.
Health Records for Students and Employees
As stated in the Tarrant County College Faculty and Staff Handbook AIDS Policy,
Tarrant County College shall comply with any state and federal laws regarding the confidentiality of educational and medical records of students and staff. Health information about a student or employee is personal and confidential and should be treated as such. Records will be maintained in a secure and confidential manner.
A drug scan, background check and BLS CPR (CPR & AED) certification for Healthcare Providers will be required upon acceptance into the program. CPR online courses will not be accepted. Requirements for dental hygiene licensure as set by The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) define that individuals be “of good moral character”. All individuals accepted into the program must meet licensure eligibility requirements. Information received from the background check or drug scan may result in dismissal from the program. In addition to a drug screening following admissions, there may be additional, random, or incident drug screenings while enrolled in the program. Additionally, second year students’ immunizations must be current and/or updated and copies on file before start of clinic.
Applicants / Students with Infectious Disease
Applicants who believe they are at an increased risk of contracting an infectious disease should seek testing and counseling prior to making application to the Dental Hygiene Program. Applicants/students who are HIV/AIDS, or HBV positive will not be barred from working, teaching, attending classes or participating in College sponsored activities unless the applicant/student is unable to follow Universal Precautions. All decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Communicable Disease Statement
Students who plan to enter the Tarrant County dental hygiene program will be required to read and sign a communicable disease statement and waiver of liability form. This form will become a part of the student’s permanent record and will state that the student:
- Has been informed of their risk for exposure to blood and body fluids
- Understands the potential transmission of blood-borne disease during patient care activities
- Agrees to undergo testing following an occupational incident or needle stick exposure to blood-borne pathogens
- Must sign a declination form in the event a student refuses to undergo testing
- Is financially responsible for any expenses incurred from the testing/treatment following an occupational incident and/or communicable disease exposure
- Agrees to treat all patients that are assigned regardless of disease state presented by the patient
Students who are minors must have the form signed by a parent or legal guardian and the form must be notarized.
All students who plan to enter a health related field of study must be able to prove immunity to mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and varicella zoster. Yearly TB testing must be done before students begin Pre-Clinic and again before they begin their second year. The Hepatitis B vaccine must be started upon acceptance to the program. The series is spread out having the first dose and second one month apart and third dose four months later. A titer needs to be performed following last series of Hepatitis B vaccine as recommended by physician.
Training in Infection Control Procedures
No student will be allowed to deliver patient care in any setting until he/she has been instructed in infection control (as per OSHA guidelines), and has mastered material on safety/universal precautions with satisfactory accuracy. Students will be expected to care for patients with health deviations including patients with HIV/AIDS, HBV and other blood-borne infectious diseases as part of routine clinical/lab curriculum experiences, following mastery of infection control skills and under faculty supervision.
Provision of Care to Patients with blood-borne Infectious Disease
Dental hygiene services will be provided to all persons in need. Decisions to provide dental hygiene care will not be made solely on the fact that a person has a blood-borne infectious disease, is HIV seropositive or has AIDS. The skill and knowledge level of the student providers, experience of the student providers, equipment available and concerns about compromise of the patient’s health status will be taken into account in decision regarding care of individuals with blood-borne infectious disease. The student must consult with the patient’s physician to determine if the patient’s health status would be significantly compromised by provision of dental treatment.
The patient who has active hepatitis should not be scheduled for dental hygiene care. A consult with the patient’s physician to determine the patient’s status (non-infectious, infectious, carrier) must be performed prior to treatment. Standard precautions should be followed.
Patients in the Dental Hygiene Clinic will be treated following Standard Precautions as outlined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
All patients with HIV/AIDS are expected to seek expert advice concerning their health circumstances and are obligated legally and ethically to conduct themselves in a responsible and safe manner on campus as a protection to the College community.
It is the responsibility of Tarrant County College’s dental hygiene program to make dental health care safe and effective for all patients and to promote the highest standards of infection control. Acceptable means of protecting dental personnel from contracting infectious diseases are available so that all types of treatment can be rendered in a manner that is safe for all patients and providers.
Patients with medical/dental needs beyond the scope available in the dental hygiene clinic will be referred to the proper agency. Patients will be responsible for all cost incurred as a result of referral. No Tarrant County College faculty or dental hygiene student may ethically refuse to treat a patient whose condition is within the dental hygienists’ realm of competence, solely because that patient is at risk of contracting, or has, an infectious disease such as HIV, AIDS or Hepatitis B infection. These patients must not be subjected to discrimination.
Reprinted with permission from Collin College Dental Hygiene Program, 2017
Updated July 27, 2021