Dental assistants may not give prescription medications to patients. Prescription medications are considered drugs and supplying a dose of a drug involves restricted activities that dental assistants aren’t authorized to perform. Only certain health care professionals, such as dentists, physicians, pharmacists and nurses may give drugs to patients.
Dental assistants may give non-prescription medications (i.e. over-the-counter, non-controlled substances) to patients under the direction and supervision of a dentist provided the dentist has:
- reviewed the patient’s chart;
- confirmed with the patient there are no known allergies or contraindications to the specific medication; and,
- provided the dental assistant with explicit instructions on dosage.
It’s the joint responsibility of the dental assistant and the supervising dentist to determine the competence of the dental assistant providing the service.
“Administration of a drug” is defined as “the supplying of a dose of a drug to a person for the purpose of immediate ingestion, application, inhalation, insertion, instillation or injection” in the Government Organization Act. Further, the Government Organization Act defines “drug” according to the Pharmacy and Drug Act.
The Alberta Government describes restricted activities as “high risk activities performed as part of providing a health service that require specific competencies and skills to be carried out safely.” Schedule 7.1 Health Services Restricted Activities of the Government Organization Act lists restricted activities, including those that involve administering drugs.
Administering drugs involves restricted activities that dental assistants are not authorized to perform.
For a health professional to be able to provide a restricted activity, their profession’s regulation must include the restricted activity as an authorized activity.
The Dental Assistants Profession Regulation doesn’t include any restricted activities that allow for administering drugs. Therefore, dental assistants aren’t authorized to give prescription medications to patients.