Duty to Provide Care

Added to Handbook: June 2004
Updated: January 2014


To provide an understanding of human rights law, the CDHBC Code of Ethics and the roles and responsibilities of dental hygienists in the provision of care without discrimination.


Section 8 of the Human Rights Code of BC, provides that: "A person must not, without bona fide and reasonable justification.....discriminate against a person or class of persons regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public because of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability [emphasis added], sex, sexual orientation or age of that person or class of persons."

The CDHBC Code of Ethics requires that Registered Dental Hygienists shall:

  • Treat clients with respect for their individual needs and values;
    The dental hygienist acknowledges the diverse needs of clients and uses a consultative approach to dental hygiene services. The dental hygienist is sensitive to but not prejudiced by factors such as the client's race, religion, gender, age, ethnic origin, social or marital status, sexual orientation, or health status.
  • Uphold the principle that the public should have fair and equitable access to dental hygiene services;
    The dental hygienist promotes oral health care and access to dental hygiene services for all individuals. The dental hygienist avoids discriminatory practices and behaviours.
  • Practice the principle of confidentiality;
    The dental hygienist provides dental hygiene services with consideration for the privacy of the client and maintains confidentiality of client records. The dental hygienist obtains the permission of the client to consult or confer with other health care professionals.


Dental hygienists have legal, moral and ethical responsibilities to render necessary dental hygiene treatment to all members of the public without discrimination. A dental hygienist may not discriminate against or refuse treatment to a client on the grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, health status, or mental or physical disability. This includes, but is not limited to, caring for clients with HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Autism, Down syndrome, Visual Impairment, ADHD, Diabetes or Cardiovascular Disease.

Dental hygienists must ensure that Routine Practices for infection prevention and control are appropriately followed for all clients.

Dental hygienists should work in collaboration with other professionals such as interpreters and other health care providers, when appropriate, to provide optimal care for the client.

Dental hygienists have a legal and ethical obligation to ensure they have appropriate education and knowledge to safely and effectively care for clients presenting with special needs and/or complex medical conditions. If a dental hygienist does not have the appropriate knowledge to safely care for a client presenting with more complex care needs, they should ensure that the client is provided with a referral to an appropriate oral health care provider. If a referral is required, clear and effective communication is essential to ensure that the client (or their care giver) understands the nature of the concern necessitating the referral and the reasons for it.


  • CDHBC Code of Ethics. Victoria: College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia; 2013.
  • Government of British Columbia. Human rights Code. Victoria: Queen's Printer Website; 2013. Available from:
    Human Rights Code [RSBC 1996] Chapter 210