Ind. bill would expand hygienists' role

Indiana may permit expanded roles for hygienists if a proposed bill passes.

The HB 1061, as written, would allow hygienists to do the following:

  • Administer nitrous oxide under a dentist's supervision
  • Practice under prescriptive supervision in a dental office if the patient has a current medical history on file and has received a comprehensive oral examination within the previous year
  • Practice in a setting where a prescription for care has been issued by the dentist within the previous 90 days, twice the time limit under the current law

In an article in the Northwest Indiana Times, Eileen Curosh, a trustee for the Indiana Dental Hygienists' Association said that the bill would expand access to care. It would enable hygienists to practice in schools without a dentist present, something there is a need for in rural parts of the state.

However, Doug Bush, executive director of the Indiana Dental Association, said that his organization is uncomfortable with the bill's current language and would not support it. The organization is seeking changes and controls that it believes would enhance patient safety.

For example, they do not support the lengthening of time that a hygienist can provide care prescribed by a dentist from 45 to 90 days. They expressed concerns about the potential for a patient's situation to change considerably over three months, particularly children and the elderly.

Other concerns centered around the use of nitrous oxide; the organization would like to see specific requirements attached to the use of the analgesic, the article noted.

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