SB1202: Dental hygienists; those who hold a license, etc., may provide educational and preventative care.

SENATE BILL NO. 1202
Offered January 14, 2009
Prefiled January 13, 2009
A BILL to amend and reenact 54.1-2722 of the Code of Virginia, relating to practice of dental hygienists.
Patron-- Puckett

Referred to Committee on Education and Health

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That 54.1-2722 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

54.1-2722. License; application; qualifications; practice of dental hygiene.

A. No person shall practice dental hygiene unless he possesses a current, active, and valid license from the Board of Dentistry. The licensee shall have the right to practice dental hygiene in the Commonwealth for the period of his license as set by the Board, under the direction of any licensed dentist.

B. An application for such license shall be made to the Board in writing, and shall be accompanied by satisfactory proof that the applicant (i) is of good moral character, (ii) is a graduate of an accredited dental hygiene program offered by an accredited institution of higher education, (iii) has passed the dental hygiene examination given by the Joint Commission on Dental Examinations, and (iv) has successfully completed a clinical examination acceptable to the Board.

C. The Board may grant a license to practice dental hygiene to an applicant licensed to practice in another jurisdiction if he (i) meets the requirements of subsection B of this section; (ii) holds a current, unrestricted license to practice dental hygiene in another jurisdiction in the United States; (iii) has not committed any act that would constitute grounds for denial as set forth in 54.1-2706; and (iv) meets other qualifications as determined in regulations promulgated by the Board.

D. A licensed dental hygienist may, under the direction or general supervision of a licensed dentist and subject to the regulations of the Board, perform services that are educational, diagnostic, therapeutic, or preventive. These services shall not include the establishment of a final diagnosis or treatment plan for a dental patient. Pursuant to subsection U of 54.1-3408, a licensed dental hygienist may administer topical oral fluorides under an oral or written order or a standing protocol issued by a dentist or a doctor of medicine or osteopathic medicine.

A dentist may also authorize a dental hygienist under his direction to administer Schedule VI nitrous oxide and oxygen inhalation analgesia and, to persons 18 years of age or older, Schedule VI local anesthesia. In its regulations, the Board of Dentistry shall establish the education and training requirements for dental hygienists to administer such controlled substances under a dentist's direction.

For the purposes of this section, "general supervision" means that a dentist has evaluated the patient and prescribed authorized services to be provided by a dental hygienist; however, the dentist need not be present in the facility while the authorized services are being provided.

The Board shall provide for an inactive license for those dental hygienists who hold a current, unrestricted license to practice in the Commonwealth at the time of application for an inactive license and who do not wish to practice in Virginia. The Board shall promulgate such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this section, including requirements for remedial education to activate a license.

E. Notwithstanding any provision of law or regulation to the contrary, a dental hygienist employed by the Virginia Department of Health who holds a license issued by the Board of Dentistry may provide educational and preventative dental care in the Cumberland Plateau, Southside, and Lenowisco Health Districts, which are designated as Virginia Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas by the Virginia Department of Health. A dental hygienist providing such services shall practice pursuant to a protocol developed jointly by the medical directors of each of the districts, dental hygienists employed by the Department of Health, the Director of the Dental Health Division of the Department of Health, one representative of the Virginia Dental Association, and one representative of the Virginia Dental Hygienists' Association. A report of services provided by dental hygienists pursuant to such protocol, including their impact upon the oral health of the citizens of these districts, shall be prepared and submitted by the medical directors of the three health districts to the Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources by November 1, 2010. Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize or establish the independent practice of dental hygiene.

2. That the Department of Health shall seek consultation and information from all relevant parties, including agencies of government, in its development of any regulations or policies to implement the provisions of the act.

3. That the provisions of this act shall expire on July 1, 2011.