I want to respond to Nancy Randall`s letter, "Another View of SHOUT," in the April issue of RDH. I highly commend her for her well-thought-out letter that I believe was "right on" in every aspect. I, too, was concerned about the future of dentistry had I-678 passed. About 66 percent of the hygienists here in the state of Washington have dropped membership, as they no longer support the hygiene association`s views. The American Dental Hygienists` Association openly embraces the medical model of managed care in hopes that initiatives such as this one would have passed.
I believe that the dental team best provides dentistry with patients routinely seen by the dentist and hygienist in the same office. America is recognized as having the highest quality dental care in the world because of this dental team. Splitting the team will drive costs up when patients would have to support two locations. Duplication of services will result in fees not payable by insurance benefits.
The initiative did not address the educational requirements the unsupervised hygienist would need to dispense drugs, give anesthetic and handle dangers of drug interactions. Nor did it limit the types of drugs the unsupervised hygienist could have dispensed. A very real health risk could have been created for seniors taking multiple medications. For true assessment of dental conditions and possible referral for medical conditions, patients need a dentist with a doctorate level of education. Serious health problems often diagnosed currently by dentists could easily be overlooked by a practitioner with less education, training, and experience.
On the surface, the SHOUT initiative appeared simple and harmless. But, in fact, it was a risky idea as the loopholes were numerous.
Julie Cole Zanner, RDH, BS