3 main steps for a proper infection control process

May 5, 2014

As a profession, we are charged with a very important mission - we need to provide the best possible care to our patients while doing it in an environment that ensures their safety.

As a profession, we are charged with a very important mission - we need to provide the best possible care to our patients while doing it in an environment that ensures their safety.

Things like infection control should be at the forefront of what we do. For me, the way I look at this is a multi-step process...

The first step in this process should begin with the manufacturer. It’s hard to overcome bad design and that goes for infection control considerations as well. In addition to how a device looks and feels, serious consideration should go into how it can be protected and/or disinfected.

That should definitely not be an afterthought.

Whether it is a device that has smooth, tightly fitting seams or a design that allows easy placement into a barrier, these are things that should be considered at the beginning of the design process. Also, creating devices out of materials that can withstand being exposed to surface disinfectants is very important.

The second step in this process should be with the dental office. No matter how well designed the product or device is, the team must make sure that infection control is done properly and done properly every time.

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Sometimes I think it is easy for us to think “we’ve got this” when it comes proper infection control, but we need to concentrate and do it properly every single time. That’s the only way to ensure we’ve done all we can to protect our patients and keep them healthy.

The third step I feel is to put in place systems that help make sure we are doing everything we can. Things such as only opening bagged instruments after the patient is seated and checking the autoclave bags to make sure they have changed color before opening can help in this regard (granted the change of color is not a guarantee of sterility, but it helps).

Having a well-rehearsed routine that you go through every time helps prevent mistakes and sloppiness in the process.

There is also the routine of checking the autoclaves with spore testing to make sure they are performing correctly. A monitoring service can provide everything needed as well as function as a third party to verify all autoclaves are sterilizing properly and that the tests are being run on a regular basis.

One of the other “techy” things we’ve done is to incorporate the Statim G4 into our office. This device, from SciCan, is an Internet-connected device that tracks and records every sterilization cycle on a built-in USB jump drive as well as emailing me an identical report every time the device runs a cycle. These reports let me know that the device is functioning properly and that no problems are being encountered.

The other thing to remember is to avail yourself of the knowledge of your dental sales reps. They are a great source of knowledge of the newest and best infection control products and will be happy to keep you informed of what you need to meet a specific infection control need. I look upon my sales rep from Goetze Dental as an adjunct staff member and utilize his expertise of the newest and best products on a regular basis.

I think infection control is best looked upon as a never-ending journey. We never truly have it all figured out and need to be constantly vigilant to make sure we are doing all we can.

I feel that if you are always striving to do the very best you can, even if you miss the target by a bit, you are still pretty close to the bull’s-eye.