Dentist Fined For Not Using Thermometer Stand Scanner — MPDPA

Handheld thermometer scanners are practiced routinely for every patient and every person entering a private dental clinic upon registration at the counter.

As of late, many authorised police enforcement units have been patrolling and inspecting private clinic premises, ensuring private dentists are following the necessary Covid-19 contact tracing SOPs.

As much as we would agree this is a great effort by them, we are also truly disheartened to know some of them have been behaving very unprofessionally during their visits. Despite following the said SOP, to accuse, bully and abuse their power as an enforcement officer towards another profession and to publicly shame them, is definitely unacceptable!

In one recent incident that occurred on May 22, a private dental clinic was harassed by an inspecting police officer for not having a thermometer stand scanner exposed in the entrance of the clinic premise, although the handheld thermometer scanner has been practiced routinely for every patient and every person entering the premise upon registration at the counter. All other necessary protocols were dutifully followed as well.

Since the stand temperature scanner was not seen at the entrance of the premise, the inspecting police officer ASSUMED no other form of temperature recording has been done in this premise and thus slapped the dentist in charge with a whopping compound!

Is this a newly imposed ruling that only a thermometer stand scanner can be used at the entrance of every premise? Or is this one of those rulings that are allowed to be imposed by an inspecting officer at their own whim and fancy? We are confused.

We question the need to have a standing thermometer scanner when the handheld thermometer does the same job, in fact better! We avoid people from using other parts of their body to scan their body temperature since the handheld thermometer handled by the appointed staff focuses straight onto their foreheads.

Isn’t this more accurate? Isn’t this following the protocol as well? We fail to understand their logic.

The enforcement officer continued to question the dentist in charge and further explained: “The standing thermometer scanner will alert a loud noise when someone’s body temperature is high and it will thus alert the surrounding public to beware – something that is not achievable with the handheld thermometer.”

I believe he is still living under a shell. Especially in present times with the new variants of coronavirus, most of us are presented as asymptomatic unknown carriers or even if suspicious of Covid positive, we may not be showing a rise in body temperature at all, as the disease now has now taken other forms of predilection signs and symptoms as well.

Having said so, increase in body temperature is not a sole confirmatory symptom either. This moreover applies in any health care facility as there are many reasons for a patient to be presented at a health care facility with a high body temperature. A simple acute toothache could also lead to a patient having an increase in body temperature!

Hence our next question is: Are enforcement officers restricting the general public with high body temperature from entering a health care facility? If so, where do they expect these patients to seek treatment then?”

YES! It is necessary to carry out temperature screening at every premise, BUT is the type of temperature scanner important? More so when there are numerous incidents of standing temperature scanners being stolen from ground floor premises. Again, we fail to understand their logic.

We believe the true SOP and control of disease spread lies in effective social distancing and wearing of appropriate face masks, in which police are turning a blind eye!

We have nothing personal against the enforcing officers but we strongly believe it is important for them to be very reasonable when issuing a compound. With the constant change and implementation of new SOPs, enforcing officers need to be tolerant and understand it is a learning process for everyone – business premise owners and the general public too.

Issuing a compound without rationalising it to merely show their authority isn’t going to curb this pandemic. Instead, more and more people will be retaliating against them and the government.

Advise us gently, issue verbal warnings, encourage and educate the public on the current new SOPs and act only when there is a need to. After all we are all in this together and facing the same fatigue together! There is no necessity for them to behave rudely or show their authority in public when we are all equally the same – frontliners doing our part in fighting this viral war!

Dr Mahendran is the president of the Malaysian Private Dental Practitioners’ Association (MPDPA).

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