Staying on top of infection control

  • staying on top of infection control
    April 20, 2018

    Staying on top of infection control 

    Preventing the spread of infectious agents is a constant ‘duty’ for every member in a dental practice.  It starts from the moment the practice is unlocked in the morning, is ongoing throughout the day, and finishes up only after the last patients leave.  It impacts on everything every we do.

    As dentists, we know all about practicing dentistry, do we know everything that does (and should) happen in that STERILISATION room?  

    I remember back when I was a dental student some 25 years ago, we were rostered into the sterilisation room for three half-days.  That is, I spent three half-days manually cleaning instruments, and nothing more.

    In my first position as a practicing dentist, I just assumed that the dental assistants were doing the right thing.  I knew I was doing the right thing– washing my hands, wearing gloves, avoiding cross-contamination, etc. and I just assumed that the instruments were being correctly sterilised and stored.  But were they?  I really had NO idea.

    The devil is in the detail when it comes to infection control in dentistry. Some aspects seem straightforward, while others can be complicated and overwhelming.  Or not even considered. 

    Where do you fit in? What questions should you be asking about infection control?

    For example:

    • What records from the sterilisation room you need to keep?  
    • What exactly is batch control identification?  
    • What do you need to put in your practice’s Infection Control Manual?

    The Dental Board of Australia expects you to regularly undertake continuing professional development in infection control.  Under existing Occupational Safety and Health legislation, a dentist (employer) must provide information, instruction, training and supervision so employees can perform their work safely.

    But bad habits can sometimes creep in.  Complacency is hard to avoid.  So honestly ask yourself: 

    • How often do you and your staff attend infection control courses?
    • Do you attend infection control refreshers courses at least every other year?
    • Do your new staff members have infection control training on commencement or at least annually?
    • Do you have a designated staff member as the Infection Control Coordinator?
    • Is your infection control current best practice?
    • Is it time for a refresher?

    With the internet, Australian Dental Association’s website, the Dental Board of Australia, journals and CPD courses you can stay current.

    Or you can work with an experienced dentist whose primary focus is supporting practices to achieve effective infection control. One who makes it a priority to have the latest information in infection control education, research and practice.  Someone with a clinical background who can help you with the required standards, guidelines and procedures.  A dentist who has done additional study in the area of infection control, and who has the relevant information at their fingertips, who can save you time, money, and make infection control as painless and effective as the rest of your dental practice.  What are you waiting for?