No Cutting Corners on Infection Control – David GibsonPromotional Features
Posted by: Dental Design 10th January 2018
At an airport in Europe, the first stream of early morning departures is ready to take to the skies. Under pressure to depart on time, one flight crew does a rushed run-through of the Preflight Checklist. They know its points off by heart, tick all the boxes as required and are quickly cleared for takeoff.
Unfortunately, their cursory attention to detail is to prove their downfall. In their haste, the crew overlooked the fact that the depressurisation switch was still on manual, instead of auto, and the gradual loss of oxygen in the cockpit causes the crew to fall unconscious. [i]
This may read like the scenario for one of the melodrama-filled “Airport” films of the early 1970s, but the sad reality is there was no brave flight attendant to save the day. It parallels an actual fatal crash when safety regulations were flouted in the name of meeting deadlines – with disastrous consequences.
The same rules governing the importance of adherence to protocols apply to many other fields, including dentistry, and the risks we run if we do not follow them. The procedures apply to specific aspects of the practice to ensure its success, from meeting GDC standards in patient treatment, ensuring that all administrative and legal concerns are properly covered to the accepted conduct of members of staff outlined by the Employee Handbook, among others. Each contributes in its own way to the ultimate goal of a satisfactory patient experience.
Of course, infection control figures prominently, and there can be no shirking from maintaining the highest standards for the safety of patients and your staff. After all, in its Standards for the Dental Team, the GDC states that patients must be treated “in a hygienic and safe environment …”[ii]. We all know that if we do not follow those procedures, the dental practice can be a breeding ground for hazardous viral and bacterial agents, from the hepatitis viruses, candida, e. coli, seasonal flu, Varicella-zoster virus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenza, Neisseria meningitis, Corynebacterium diphtheria, Bordetella pertussis and many more.
Some less familiar but even more potent pathogens are joining this dangerous crowd, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections, MCR-1, a new strain of superbug, the coronavirus MERS CoV, bird flu, Ebola and Zika virus. Several of these, such as MERs CoV and bird flu, are viral infections of the respiratory tract, which are easily transmitted from person to person, especially through germs expelled from the oral cavity.[iii] For dental professionals, the standard use of masks and gloves, pre-procedure rinses, rubber dam and high volume suction reduces the risk of contracting many infective agents when treating a sick patient, whether they are afflicted by the common cold or a potentially deadly disease.[iv]
It is essential that all parts of the practice are sterilised to the required standards. Without stringent infection control protocols, stipulated by the Health and Social Care Act 2008, practices are at risk of transmission of infection from medical devices to service users and staff. on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance states,.[v]
We have probably come a long way since the findings of a survey of nearly 200 practices a year in 2009, when instrument decontamination training was limited to demonstrations in 97 per cent of cases, and 74 per cent of dental nurses and 57 per cent of dentists were unable to recognise the symbol used for a single-use device.[vi] There are still 300,000 healthcare-associated infections in patients treated in the NHS system annually but, alarmingly, a third of infection prevention experts recently reported reductions in their community infection control services.[vii]
There is no room for complacency in the ever-changing landscape of infection control, and no dentist worth his license would consider putting patients or his staff at risk. They invest in the best decontamination products available; the choice of many are those from EschmannDirect, from its range of autoclaves to surface sanitising wipes.
There is no excuse for cutting corners in hygiene maintenance and standards. For those who do will have no valid excuse for the potential ramifications and the damage to their professional reputation.
For more information on the highly effective and affordable range of decontamination equipment and products from Eschmann, please visit www.eschmann.co.uk or call 01903 753322
[i] Air Accident Investigation & Aviation Safety Board (AAIASB), Ministry of Transport & Communications, Hellenic Republic. Aircraft Accident Report: Helios Airways Flight HCY522. November 2006. Link: http://www.aaiasb.gr/imagies/stories/documents/11_2006_EN.pdf
[ii] General Dental Council (undated). Standards for the Dental Team. Link: file:///Users/officeekc/Downloads/NEW%20Standards%20for%20the%20Dental%20Team.pdf
[iii] Monaghan, N.P. British Dental Journal, Vol. 221. “Emerging Infections – Implications for Dental Care.” Online publication date July 8, 2016.
[iv] Department of Health. “Decontamination Health Technical Memorandum 01-05. Decontamination in primary care dental practices”. (2013). Link:
[v] The Health and Social Care Act (2008). Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/449049/Code_of_practice_280715_acc.pdf
[vi] Smith, A., Creanor, S, Hurrell, D, Bagg, J., McCowan, M. The Journal of Hospital Infection. Management of Infection Control in Dental Practice. Vol. 71, April 2009. Link: ww.journalofhospitalinfection.com/article/S0195-6701%2808%2900493-3/abstract
[vii] Infection Prevention Society. “Cuts in Investment in Infection Prevention Threatens Patient Safety.” Media release. June 2, 2017.
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