In the last two weeks, I lead several video conferences on infection control best practices, as dental practices have taken this downtime to review their training curriculum.
The audience of two conferences was comprised of dental supply company field representatives. (Field reps with supply companies have to visit a lot of practices on a regular basis, much like our compliance advisors at Smart Training.)
As we were waiting for stragglers to log in, I took a quick poll of infection control violations the reps most often observed as they made their rounds. One was an item that’s been harped on in CDC guidelines for dentistry since at least 2003; the other, a newer but no less important breach.
If you regularly read my articles, I’ll sound like a broken record bringing up this oldie but goodie. Though our compliance advisors haven’t seen this violation as often in the last year or so, you wouldn’t believe that based on the reports of the field reps. Several at both of the meetings said they see way too many dental practices that think spore testing is somewhat optional, or a do-it-when-you-remember task.
To review: The CDC recommends—and most state dental boards adopt CDC recommendations as part of their rules—spore testing of autoclaves be performed a minimum of once per week. You’re pussy-footing around with your patients’ health and your (or the practice owner’s) dental license if this is not followed. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Intra-oral Camera Sterilization
Many of the field reps reported seeing intra-oral cameras being used on patients without proper sterilization safeguards in place. The easiest and most preferred way to keep intra-oral cameras safe for patients is to use a one-time, disposable plastic sleeve on it, and replacing it between each patient, so the camera itself never touches a patient. Some practices sanitize the camera—or the “wand”—with a surface disinfectant. Check your intra-oral camera’s IFU (Instructions For Use). If you follow the manufacturer’s recommendation of the best way to keep the instrument sterile, it’s hard to go wrong.