In case you’ve been under a rock the past few news cycles, three dental practices were shut down in Philadelphia in December for improper reprocessing and sterilization of dental equipment and lapses in injection safety practices.
Patients who were treated in these practices between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 7, 2018, were advised to get tested for hepatitis B and C viruses and HIV.
Before we get on our high horses and declare “that would never happen in our practice,” I caution you to consider the old adage regarding football teams of disparate strengths playing each other. Think Alabama vs Slippery Rock, “On any given Saturday…”
Things can go downhill quickly.
Having conducted over 1,500 inspections of dental practices across the country, Smart Training compliance advisors have seen the spectrum of good and bad practices when it comes to employee and patient safety.
To sum up what we see in two words: things change. It boggles the mind to see an incredibly buttoned up practice you visited is, just six months later, a train wreck with regard to protocols. But it happens—and more often than I care to admit. (Just last week, I was at an office that hadn’t conducted spore tests for the past two months.)
Culprits We See Most
This is a good segue into what’s most often the culprit when we “open up the hood to check the oil.”
- Employee turnover—a changing of the guard—is first on the list. (This is what happened at the practice I just inspected.)
- Staff becoming a little lax
- Staff on vacation; or practices not operating at full strength, staff-wise
As a practice owner, you put a lot of faith in your staff; they’re professionals and should be treated as such. But to borrow a phrase from President Reagan, “Trust, but verify.”
Keep things in perspective.
Ask yourself two important questions.
1. Whose license (and livelihood) is at risk if proper protocols aren’t followed in your practice?
2. Whose reputation (and livelihood) is at risk?