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    How to stay up to date on infection control policies

    Keeping up with trends in infection prevention may seem like a chore, but these resources can help to simplify the process.

    While the fundamentals of infection control are, to some degree, constant (hands must be washed, surfaces must be disinfected, etc.), the field is also somewhat dynamic (new infection threats arise, the latest equipment must be sanitized, and so forth). With everything else dental professionals have to stay on top of, keeping abreast of trends in infection prevention may seem like a chore. However, it doesn’t have to be daunting, especially given the abundance of educational opportunities.

    The Information Age

    The internet makes staying on top of current information easier than ever. Dental-specific information can be garnered from official websites like OSHA, the ADA, or FDA. For instance, Karen Daw, of Karen Daw Consulting and former clinic health and safety director for The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, refers to the CDC’s website.

    “The CDC Oral Health site houses some of the best resources on infection control and prevention in dentistry, including Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings - 2003, Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities -200m8 and the 2016 Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings: Basic Expectations for Safe Care,” she says. “It’s also very easy to navigate, as they have popular topics broken down by category like ‘personal protective equipment’ or ‘hand hygiene.’ They house a Frequently Asked Questions section. I always encourage offices to look at the FAQ. If they have a question, most likely others have too.”

    Industry publications offer current, pertinent information.

    Related reading: 6 scary consequences of not following good infection control practices

    “Another way to stay on top of your infection control game is to read dental publications and newsletters,” Daw says. “They are devoted to providing the latest dental information from leaders in the field. The articles are relevant, easy to read, and cover some of the most popular topics related to infection control like surface disinfection, common infection control breaches and instrument processing.”

    Vendors are also exceptional resources, especially since they’re on the forefront of what’s new in the industry.

    “Dental infection control manufacturers are always coming out with the next best product to solve your infection control woes,” Daw explains. “And many will have data to support why their product is the best. Sure, they are going to talk their product up, but gathering information from a variety of companies can help the practice stay on top of the latest in infection control.”

    Continuing education courses provide an opportunity for in-depth, hands-on learning, too.

    “Attending infection control continuing education courses is a great way to ensure you are receiving the most current infection control policies and procedures,” Daw says. “I always recommend having the entire office attend so they also have an opportunity to learn about updates or changes. It’s difficult enough trying to implement changes to ensure the office is doing what is required. Having the whole team there to hear the same message helps to remove some of the resistance.”

    Practices may also benefit from bringing in a consultant who specializes in infection prevention.

    “A consultant can guide you and keep you up to date,” Daw adds. “We live in a world where we are continuously bombarded with information, and our poor brains are constantly sifting through information to determine what is meaningful and what can be discarded. Consultants scour publications and websites, conduct research and attend infection control events on a full-time basis. A consultant can act as a filter, collecting relevant information, then neatly packaging it in a way that can more readily be accessed. One aspect of their job is to ensure their clients receive the updates in a way that saves the practice from having to spend too much time and money had they done it on their own.”

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    Robert Elsenpeter
    Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author ...


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