Unfortunately, not everyone sees eye to eye when it comes to enhanced safety measures that can help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Dental offices have stepped up and implemented health and safety guidelines that enable their patients to receive essential medical care under enhanced protective safety measures.

When faced with a patient who’s uncooperative with safety precautions, a dental office can have more success in managing and deescalating the situation with the following guidelines.

Communication is key
Dental offices can help reduce these incidents by preparing their patients with advanced notice of the health and safety protocols, which include checking temperatures before appointments and requiring face coverings.

This early communication sets expectations for the patient, giving them the opportunity to cancel their appointment or reschedule for a later date.

One notice is typically not sufficient. Dental offices can increase their outreach by sending appointment alerts by email, text and voicemail with the friendly reminder that the office is following COVID-19 protocol.

Easy-to-read posters and other physical notices on-site will reinforce this important message and reduce conflict.

Offer patients reasonable accommodations
Listening to patients and their concerns can create another pathway toward a solution through reasonable accommodations.

Dental offices can offer to postpone the appointment, agree to keep patients in fully separate areas during their visit or provide flexibility of where patients can wait before they’re seen. A reasonable accommodation can bridge the gap of differences and create a positive experience for everyone involved.

Support staff members
Nothing can be more important than letting staff members know they are supported and will not be alone if confronted with a disgruntled patient.

Creating a safe and supportive work experience for staff members is key to addressing today’s needs in a unified and professional manner.

Simple steps such as updating workplace-violence policies to cover all employees and looping them in on new policies are two big steps toward showing support and solidarity during this critical time.

Prepare staff for conflict-resolution training
Proper planning and training on how staff can communicate and resolve conflicts that arise from these situations are fundamental to keeping everyone safe and feeling confident.

For instance, staff members must know that they are not there to enforce any rule, but rather, will only encourage and request that patients follow vital health and safety protocols for everyone’s well-being.

Employees must also be prepared for escalations and have a plan in place on what steps need to be taken to reach an amicable resolution. Planning for various scenarios that become threatening is also necessary. Employees should be aware of designated safe areas where they can retreat during an emergency. A clear understanding of the chain of command is essential for quick decision-making.

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