Dental Hygiene Prescriptive Authority Removed & Then Restored

In 2015 Senate Bill 302 amended the Oregon Dental Practice Act by adding “Prescribing, dispensing and administering prescription drugs” to the definition of a dental hygienist. In 2005 the Oregon Board of Dentistry had amended OAR 818-035-0030 to allow all dental hygienists to “prescribe fluoride, fluoride varnish and antimicrobial solutions for mouth rinsing or other non-systemic antimicrobial agents.” In March 2014 the Dental Hygiene Committee of the Oregon Board of Dentistry recommended a rule change that would allow dental hygienists to prescribe and use a medical emergency kit that contains EpiPens, nitroglycerin, etc. Following this discussion, the Executive Director of the Oregon Board of Dentistry requested that their Assistant Attorney General (legal counsel) provide the board with legal advice on the type of authority dental hygienists had to prescribe drugs. The Assistant Attorney General opined that there was no prescriptive authority granted to dental hygienists in the law other than the statute that allowed expanded practice dental hygienists to write prescriptions for fluoride. Based on this legal opinion, the Oregon Board of Dentistry deleted the word “prescribe” from their administrative rules for dental hygienists effective August 1, 2014. The Oregon Board of Dentistry mailed a postcard to all licensees to notify them of rule changes and indicated that “dental hygienists without an Expanded Practice Permit are no longer able to prescribe any medications.” After this legal opinion was rendered, the Oregon Dental Hygienists’ Association immediately began working with the Oregon Board of Dentistry and the Oregon Dental Association to draft Senate Bill 302 that would add prescriptive authority for dental hygienists to the Oregon Dental Practice Act. Senate Bill 302 passed and prescriptive authority was restored to all dental hygienists through statute.

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