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    Why you should consider hiring an infection control consultant

    Is your practice in need of a fresh set of eyes?

    Infection control is critical to the dental practice. Beyond the obvious need – safety for both patients and staff – there are mandates and recommendations from the CDC and OSHA that necessitate continuing education.

    Additionally, the practice may want to bring in a second set of eyes to assess the office for safety-related issues. For whatever reason one might need expert assistance, infection control consultants can help.

    Call in a ringer

    Ideally, each practice will have its own infection control coordinator, or someone in the practice to be the go-to person for infection control matters. But if someone in the practice is already being tapped to fill that role, why bring in an outside consultant?

    Related reading: 6 questions about infection control you might be afraid to ask

    “The CDC recommends that each office have an infection control coordinator,” says Karen Daw of Karen Daw Consulting and former clinic health and safety director for The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. “While some taking on those responsibilities actually have received additional credentialing in safety and infection prevention, most assigned to this very important role know the basics. And that is acceptable, except now we are asking them to be responsible for the safety of all the employees and patients. Partnering with an outside resource, like a consultant who specializes in ‘covering the bases,’ can make things easier for the coordinator. There are many things to be concerned with when running a practice. Why lose sleep over whether this area is being managed properly?”

    ConsultantJessica Yanke, clinical coordinator at Winick Endodontics in Canton, Ohio, says her practice utilizes consultants because of the level of knowledge and expertise that they bring.

    “A consultant knows the ins and outs of all aspects of OSHA and protection,” Yanke says. “It’s somebody who studies it and is constantly looking for updates and ways to improve things and gives out helpful tips and a customized plan for our office. It’s having someone there to rely on if we have questions. ‘Are we doing this right?’ It’s just having someone to lean on.”

    Daw adds, “I believe people have more respect for an organization that asks themselves, ‘Are we doing everything we possibly can’ than a practice that just assumes they know it all. You don’t know what you don’t know. Those offices that partner with outside resources operate at a high level of performance and do not settle for the bare minimum. The patients notice it too.”

    Having a qualified consultant brings an interpersonal relationship that makes the topics more relatable.

    More from the author: 4 things you need to do before expanding your practice

    “There is a dynamic energy that is provided during a live lecture,” says Laura deForest, executive director of the Stark County Dental Society. “And then, of course, the interactive Q&A that always follows the meeting is extremely helpful for all in the room. What’s nice is to have that resource available afterward. An office will come up with a question and contact the speaker, and that speaker will get right back with them. That, to our offices, is invaluable.”

    Certainly, infection control is a topic on which clinicians are thoroughly trained. Additionally, regular continuing education is required to maintain one’s license. To the CDC and OSHA’s credit, infection control topics are shared freely on the organizations’ websites. So, why do you need an outside consultant?

    “If my car was having problems, I’d be able to take a look under the hood and tinker around a bit, but I probably wouldn’t want to attempt a full engine swap,” Daw says. “A consultant brings that level of expertise when working with the office. Consultants are able to navigate state and federal regulations, help interpret standards and explain how to be in compliance.”

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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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