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    5 common mistakes that can ruin your infection control efforts

    Paying attention to detail is key when it comes to avoiding mishaps.

    When it comes to infection control, every dental practice operates with only the best of intentions. Nobody wants a patient or a dental team member acquiring an infection or getting injured, but despite good intentions, mistakes can occur. And as a result of those missteps, the risks for infection increase.

    Are you guilty of making some of these common infection control blunders?

    Develop an office-specific infection control program

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that each dental facility develops and maintains an infection prevention and occupational health program. Pre-planning and training are vital to the practice’s infection control program.

    Related reading: 5 equipment considerations to improve infection control

    “The number one problem practices have is an inadequate written plan,” Dr. Marie Fluent, DDS, an educational consultant for The Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP), says. “On occasion, when I go into a dental office, I find there is no written program. In these instances, one team member might train another on how to reprocess instruments, clean and disinfect environmental surfaces, or maintain dental unit waterlines according to the protocol that he or she had once learned, but the office-specific protocol is not written. Dental facilities may have an infection control manual that’s very thick and full of wonderful policies, protocol, resources, references and templates for documentation, but if it sits unwrapped on the shelf, it is of no use. Each dental facility should have a site-specific written manual that may be utilized on a day-to-day basis.”

    Passing infection control policies and protocol to team members, informally, can and will lead to misunderstandings and errors. Dr. Fluent compares the effect to that of a children’s game.

    “I call it, ‘The Game of Telephone,’” Dr. Fluent says. “As a child, we would sit in a circle and share a secret with one person who would share it with the next, who would share it with the next—around the circle. When the last person explained what they had heard, the story would be completely different than what the first person intended to pass along. If we look at instrument processing in the same manner, we can assume that instrument cleaning, wrapping, sterilization and storage would not be implemented as the trainer expected. This is one fashion in which instrument processing faux pas can occur. In these instances, perhaps the wrong product is utilized, inadequate or no PPE is worn, or the manufacturer’s instructions are not followed. There are many options for error and non-compliance— possibly without the team member’s awareness.”

    Up next: Improperly wearing personal protective equipment...

    Robert Elsenpeter
    Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Dental Lab Products. He is also the ...
    E-BOOK: The Dentist's Definitive Guide to Investing in 2016 - Download now!

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