Instructions for Use (IFU). They’re available for every product and instrument used in your practice.
And they’re boring. (The acronym, less so. While teaching a class of over 100 clinicians at Yankee Dental Congress in Boston last month, I asked if anyone knew what the acronym stood for. A couple dental assistants at the back of the room chuckled; and as my face grew redder, the whole room belly laughed at my expense.)
But you and your staff must read them.
Why? Similar products or instruments can have similar or distinctly different instructions for use. Sometimes not following instructions exactly doesn’t make much of a difference.
But sometimes, that translates into a product or instrument being used incorrectly—and it can cause serious injury or death.
IFUs are some of clinicians’ best friends: they keep them out of the ditches.
A Real Life Example
If the enzymatic solution you use in your ultrasonic instrument bath calls for two tablets per gallon, and you have a one-gallon capacity ultrasonic bath, you’d add two tablets, right?
Let’s say your ultrasonic bath fails a couple years down the road (as ultrasonic baths do), and you upgrade to one with a three-gallon capacity. You’d need to use six tablets, right?
Well, like the gendarme in “Casablanca,” you’d be “shocked, shocked” at the number of practices I’ve been in where they didn’t read the IFU for the enzymatic, and realize they needed to increase the number of tablets from two to six.
The ultrasonics continued receiving two tablets a day, though the capacity increased three-fold. No wonder instruments coming out of the autoclaves still had debris attached to them!
Next month we’ll tackle another acronym that we’re hearing more and more about: DUWL.
Until then, be safe!