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Dental offices have developed strategies to deal with mass staff absences.

When Staff is Out

Another COVID Lesson Learned

Healthcare providers have learned many lessons throughout the pandemic — including how to function when large numbers of workers are out.

In this time of burnout, extreme stress, depression and exhaustion due to the pandemic, it is hard for those of us not in an active busy practice to realize just how trying a day can be. In one instance we recently became aware of, one of two cardiology group offices had to close due to all of the staff testing positive for COVID. For this cardiology group, having one office doing the work of two was pushing the remaining staff towards their breaking point.

When the second office took on the duties normally performed by the first office, it became apparent how much each individual team member was doing. Unfortunately, it also became clear how little was recorded about how to perform certain tasks unique to those positions — tasks that had to be assumed by other individuals.   

Lesson Learned

So, what is the lesson? If a staff member has a particular job function, it is important to have the steps and processes written down. When absences occur, especially those that may be prolonged and could affect patient care, it is necessary to have the information available so another individual can perform the job in a similar manner (as long as the task falls within the scope of their license, if applicable).

As soon as practicable, have your staff write down:

  • The title of that task they perform
  • How often it is performed and why
  • The steps they take to complete the task
    • Where information can be found
    • How it is documented in the records
    • Any specific notations are necessary
  • Date the document
  • Accumulate these documents in a central location so they are obtainable as necessary when needed

When "Substitute" Staff Fills In

Any staff member covering for another individual and performing new or unique tasks should document the task with their name and title. Your office attendance records should be able to show which individuals were out and for how long to collaborate why a second individual was performing the task.

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