By now you’ve heard about the “dirty dentist” in Tulsa, OK, who potentially exposed thousands of patients to HIV and hepatitis B and C due to improper infection control. As a healthy practice you’re probably wondering how something like this could ever happen, but the extent of it is mind-boggling, really. Cleaning rusty, old tools with bleach, reusing needles to administer expired medicine to patients, and allowing dental assistants to administer IV sedation are things you would never allow in your practice. Although you’re aware of all the protocols that must be followed to keep your patients safe from infection, your patients may not be. These are things they probably haven’t given much thought to in the past, but due to widespread media coverage, they are now. More than ever, patients are thinking back to all the times they’ve visited your office and asking themselves a lot of questions:
“Was the office clean?” “Were the instruments that were used in my mouth properly sterilized?” “How exactly do they sterilize those tools, anyway?”
Talk to patients about infection control
It’s a great time to talk to patients about your infection control procedures. Taking advantage of this opportunity to explain how dental supplies and tools are stored and how instruments are cleaned and sterilized informs patients about what goes on behind the scenes in your practice. They’ll appreciate the time you’ve taken to be open, honest and willing to share these protocols with them.
Infection control topics to discuss include:
• Autoclave Units: show patients exactly how instruments are sterilized
• Pouches: explain how tools are packaged in preparation for sterilization and inform patients they should see you open a new kit before their procedure
• Surface disinfection: not only are the tools and instruments properly sterilized and maintained but surfaces in the operatory are also cleaned thoroughly and routinely wiped down with disinfectant wipes in between patients, if not more often.
It’s also the perfect time to take a good look at the protocols you have in place. Are they up-to-date? Is your equipment functioning properly? Are there any new products available that will help your practice meet or exceed current infection control standards?
We understand saving money on equipment and dental supplies is important to you but not at the risk of putting your patients in harms way. At SmartPractice we want to partner with you and your staff when it comes to making your practice a trusted provider of dental services to your community. We offer thousands of items at competitive prices to keep your practice safe and thriving. And we make it easy to order online or over the phone with fast, friendly service and free shipping on orders of $500 or more.
Do you currently have any plans to make improvements or update infection control procedures in your practice? We’d love to hear your plans, tips and ideas!