COVID-19 Pandemic Practice
Am I covered by the liability policy I get with my MTAA Active Membership for COVID-19 related claims?
In the event of a claim or accusation by a client, each case would be looked at on an individual basis and adjusted accordingly, the intent of the insurance is to always assist and respond in the best interest of you, our client. There is no definite actions or adherence to guidelines that would protect you from a suit, however, maintaining/following and recording your actions and that you are adhering to all guidelines and being 100% proactive will always be beneficial as part of any response and investigation of a claim. It is very important for all businesses to be as well-informed as possible and to ensure that they are following all government, public health, and regulatory guidelines as closely as possible. All businesses must ensure that they are proactively managing their exposures to actions/claims of negligence. Businesses need to be able to demonstrate, through their documentation and their actions, that they are adhering to all guidelines for the protection of their staff and clients/customers.
The MTAA's current position, based upon this information and consultation with regulated healthcare colleges, is that a complete informed consent, prior to treatment, that lists the risks of treatment ( in this case, the potential of exposure to viruses and pathogens), is sufficient and therefore it is not an additional benefit to having a signed COVID-19 waiver. There was concern expressed in our conversations with Trisura, that a waiver can actually open a practitioner up to more liability depending on the wording.
Trisura has assured us that any member who faces legal action due to a COVID-19 will receive full legal support and defence of the claim. It is our understanding that for a legal claim to be successful, the complainant would have to show that the therapist either through negligence or intent caused the transmission of COVID-19. By following all protocols, documenting your patient screening, documenting informed consent, and following all recommended hygiene and continuous masking guidelines, the legal exposure of a therapist is believed to be very low.
If you feel that a waiver would provide you with more comfort while practicing during COVID-19, it is recommended that you contact the free legal support offered to you through your Trisura insurance plan with the MTAA and ask for their guidance on the matter. Please contact the Trisura legal hotline at 1-866-945-5207.
COVID-19 Screening Questions
How many times do I need to screen my patients for COVID-19 symptoms?
You will need to screen 2 times. Patients should be screened when the appointment is booked and should be screened immediately upon arriving for their appointment. Screenings must be documented and filed for each appointment. Screening results should be kept in the patient’s file.
Do I need to screen the patients, or can the admin staff conduct the screenings?
Staff who have been trained on how to properly conduct the COVID-19 screening can administer the patient screenings.
Where do I find the screening questions?
The MTAA has provided a downloadable screening template that you can use. This template meets the requirements of the CMOH-05-2020 order. You can choose to use this template, create your own, or use another COVID-19 screening template you have found. The screening questions listed on the MTAA COVID-19 Screening Template are the minimum questions that MUST be asked when conducting a COVID-19 screening assessment.
MTAA COVID-19 Screening Questionaire
Do I have to screen caregivers/guardians who arrive with a patient, even if I am able to maintain a two-meter distance from them?
YES. Anyone who enters the clinic must complete a COVID-19 screening assessment. Also, anyone who enters the clinic/workspace must have their name and contact information recorded on a private ledger for possible contact tracing if required by the public health authority.
Hand Hygiene Questions
Can I have a towel by the sink for therapists to dry their hands on after washing?
No. Hands must be dried by single-use towels. These can be paper towels or regular cotton hand towels, but they can only be used once before being laundered or recycled.
Do gloves really need to be worn when doing laundry?
YES. Gloves must be worn when handling soiled or clean linens. When handling clean linen, a new pair of gloves must be worn.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
How do I know if my cleaning solution is Health Canada approved?
If your cleaning product has the word “disinfectant” on the label, and specifically states that it “kills viruses” or is “viricidal” and has a Drug Identification Number (DIN), it is approved as a disinfectant during COVID-19. Health Canada has created a database of approved disinfectants that can be accessed here:
All the stores are sold out of disinfectants, what can I do?
Some approved disinfectants can be found where you would least expect them. An example is “Spray-Nine” which is often in stock at Home Hardware, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, and other hardware stores. You can also look at the links provided on the MTAA website for PPE and cleaning supplies.
Lastly, you can make your own disinfectant using 4 teaspoons of bleach to 1L of water. This solution will only keep for 24 hours and must be re-made daily.
I have cloth chairs in my reception area, do they need to be removed?
If your reception chairs cannot be disinfected, they must be removed. However, with limiting people in the reception area to 1 and by spacing out patients, it is recommended to remove all chairs from the reception area. It is recommended to have one or two chairs, that can be sanitized, available should someone need to sit.
How much time do I need between appointments to conduct cleaning?
There is not a set rule for this. Most disinfectants require to be left wet for 10 minutes on a surface to disinfect. Each individual therapist needs to determine how long it will take them to finish with one patient, disinfect the treatment area and touched clinic surfaces, set up the treatment room and intake the next patient. Often a minimum of 20-30 minutes is reserved between patients.
There are a lot of items that need to be sanitized, how can I make sure to remember them all?
It is advised to create your own list using at minimum, the specific items listed in the MTAA COVID-19 Pandemic Practice document (pg. 6-7). As all practices are set up differently, the number of items that need to be cleaned may vary drastically. As a rule, any surface or item that a patient or therapist touches needs to be sanitized, as should any surface in the treatment room.
My reception area does not have a plexiglass barrier, do I need to buy one?
No. Although a physical barrier is recommended, if all staff are continuously masked, a physical barrier is not required.
Some of my patients show up with their children, is this okay?
Although this is not desirable, it is not restricted. It is recommended that you contact your patients prior to their appointment and recommend:
Personal Protective Equipment
Where can I purchase supplies such as masks from?
We have many businesses listed on the member's side of the website that sells masks, sanitizer, sneeze guards and more. You can access this information by following these steps. First, log into your MTAA Member profile. Next, select the PARTNERS tab, then select MT Supplies. You will first see Relaxus listed, but if you scroll down you will see many other sources to obtain PPE and supplies from.
Is a surgical mask the only PPE I need to wear?
YES. Based upon the latest evidence and the recommendations of the CMOH, the most effective way of preventing the spread of COVID-19 is through physical distancing, physical barriers, hand hygiene and patient screening. As COVID-19 is a droplet spread virus, ensuring you are not treating anyone who is currently exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 will significantly reduce the chance of spreading the virus.
Some other massage therapy colleges / associations require therapists to wear eyewear or gowns, why do we not need to?
Based upon the direction of the CMOH, gowns and eyewear are only required if you are treating someone suspected to have COVID-19 or are conducting a treatment that has a higher risk of causing aerosols. If you are conducting intra oral treatments, percussion techniques or your patient has a pre-existing respiratory condition that causes coughing and sneezing, you may want to wear protective eyewear or a face shield as added protection.
Conducting a thorough COVID-19 patient screening and rigorous hand hygiene is believed to be more useful at preventing the spread during a massage therapy session than having the therapist wear excessive amounts of PPE.
Can I wear the same mask all shift?
YES, although unlikely. Masks need to be changed when they become soiled, wet, damaged, if you have eaten, had a drink or gone to the washroom.
Do my patients need to wear a mask?
NO. At this time, the CMOH has recommended that all people wear a non-surgical mask when out in public and cannot maintain two-meter physical distancing. You can certainly recommend or request your patients wear a mask, but it is not recommended that you require your patients to wear a mask. There are likely numerous legal issues surrounding “requiring” someone to wear a mask. For non-masked patients, consider treating in prone instead of supine and adjust treatment angles and patient head position to limit breathing directly onto each other.
Do I need to wear scrubs or a gown when treating?
NO. You need to wear clean clothes to work and you must change your clothes before leaving the clinic at the end of your shift. A therapist should always be aware of and minimize any contact between the therapists clothing and the patient.
Can I wear a face shield instead of a mask?
Unfortunately, no. The CMOH order 10-2020 states that all healthcare providers who are not able to maintain a 2-metre distance must be continually masked at all times. Although a face shield would likely protect the therapist more than a mask, there is still a large gap at the bottom of a face shield that would allow a sneeze or a cough from the therapist to escape and increase the chance of transmission to the patient. An MTAA member who wishes to wear a face shield, as well as a mask, is certainly able to do so but a shield cannot be worn in lieu of a mask until order CMOH 10 - 2020 is rescinded.
Do I have to wear a mask at all times?
The requirement for healthcare workers to be continuously masked is a mandate that was put in place by the chief medical officer of Health. The MTAA cannot advise its members to do anything but follow all the orders and laws put in place by the public health authority. Until the Chief Medical Officer of Health rescinds its order 05-2020, all our members must be continuously masked if they are providing care to a patient.
Any concerns regarding healthcare providers being continuously masked would be best brought forward to the office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta or Alberta Health Services which are the two bodies that put this requirement into place.
Do I need to conduct a COVID-19 screening on myself?
YES. All staff must conduct and record the same COVID-19 screening as their patients every shift.
What if I start to feel sick during work and screen positive on the COVID-19 screening?
Current requirements are that you self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms and call 811.