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« Regulatory FAQ on Dental Anesthesia Assistants »

On March 7, Governor Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5620, requiring the certification of dental anesthesia assistants. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

For more information contact Michael Walsh at

Q: When will this law take effect?

A: The Dental Quality Assurance Commission (DQAC) has begun the rule making process. This process will take approximately one year.

Q: What do you have to do to become certified?

A: To become certified as a dental anesthesia assistant, applicants must complete a DQAC-approved dental anesthesia assistant training course, and provide proof that the office where the dental anesthesia assistant will work possesses a valid general anesthesia permit. 

Q: What is the curriculum for the dental anesthesia assistant training course?

A: The curriculum will include intravenous access or phlebotomy, training on starting and maintaining intravenous lines and completion of a DQAC-approved basic life support/cardiac pulmonary resuscitation course

Q: What is the scope of practice for dental anesthesia assistants?

A: CDAA’s may only work under the supervision of an oral maxillofacial surgeon or a dental anesthesiologist. Under close supervision, a dental anesthesia assistant may initiate and discontinue an intravenous line for a patient being prepared to receive intravenous medications, sedation, or general anesthesia and may adjust the rate of intravenous fluid infusion only to maintain and keep the line open. Under direct visual supervision, a dental anesthesia assistant may draw up and prepare medications, follow instructions to deliver medication into an intravenous line upon verbal command, adjust and intravenous line beyond a keep open rate, adjust an electronic device to provide medications, and administer emergency medications.

Q: Can a dental anesthesia assistant administer anesthetics without supervision?

A: No. The responsibility for monitoring a patient and determining the selection of the drug, dosage, and timing of all anesthetic medications rests solely with the oral and maxillofacial surgeon or dental anesthesiologist.

Q: Can registered dental assistants and licensed expanded function dental auxiliaries administer anesthetic?

A: No. Dental assistants and expanded function dental auxiliaries may not administer any general or local anesthetic.  

Click here to view a copy of the governor signed legislation.

Reader Comments (6)

This is a nightmare waiting to happen. Dental Assistants are not qualified to take on this role. A short course is not going to be adequate preparation. The bill should require a nurse to be present for the anesthesia if the provider wishes to perform dentistry as well as the anesthetic. I'm not saying a Registered Nurse Anesthetist, but a registered nurse. Why would dentists assume that a short course would qualify a dental assistant to function in the same role as a registered nurse? What happened to patient safety being paramount? Why shouldn't the patient be as safe in a dental office anesthetic as in the local hospital?

My advice: do what is best for the patient, and require OMFS and DAs to have a nurse present, along WITH a dental assistant to assist the dentist.


04.23.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The person who commented above is correct. Taking a short course should not give you the ability to perform anesthesia. I know it is another cost but isn't it worth it to have a nurse around.

10.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSean

RDA's are fully qualified with the right training and certifacation.
there are no nurses working in oral maxillofacial surgons offices. We are the Nurses of the dental field.
Patient saftey is always paramount. This is a low blow to the many RDA's who up hold the standers of care for our patients and who are truly compassionate about our feild of work.

09.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicky

I agree with Nicky. There are good RDA's out there who put patient care and safety first. It also says that DAA's are under the direct supervision of a Dental Anesthetist or Oral surgeon. That's better than an RN. Why hire a nurse that knows nothing about the dental field when the dentist is required to be the direct supervisor. There are fabulous assistants out there that don't have the resources to go to school to become a dentist so it's awesome they are helping expand what they can do. Of course there are some scetchy people that shouldn't be allowed to touch anyone but you get that in every profession as well including regular MD's. It's the people that strive to do the best they can and be the best at what they are allowed to do that make this world a better safer place. I've had an RN and an RDA work on my veins and based on those experiences the RN was the one needing to go back to target school hands down.

09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMeagan

As long as the dental assistant is capable and has a clear understanding of the procedure, risks, and emergency protocols they are fully capable of this added responsibility. With the additional training and education, having worked in private practices as well as a civilian assistant for the United States Air Force, I have never had/seen any issues or complications from the anesthesia administered by an assistant. Granted, the additional education and course work that goes along with the program, along with the doctor having complete trust and confidence in the competency in that assistants abilities is the real key. If the assistant shows signs of poor judgement or possibly causing harm, then the doctor should take measures to remove that assistant. Its the same as the assistants and hygienists who are immaculate in their fields vs those who are oblivious and incompetent. For every perfect employee, there is one on the opposite side of the spectrum. As long as extensive and regulated programs, whith the main focus to educate and weed out the high risk assistants. The Air Force has implemented this, and it has nothing to do with a financial aspect. The doctors get paid the same if they are working or sitting in their office. Its about using your employees to their fullest potential, and building a great team full of extremely experienced and educational employees. But everyone has their own opinion, and if you don't agree with it, dont hire the assistants for this purpose. Simple as that.

08.13.2014 | Unregistered Commenterpositive attitude

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