Cross contamination: the meat of the matter – Rebecca Waters, Category Manager, Initial MedicalFeatured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 7th March 2019
A recent headline by BBC news revealed that one fifth of meat samples taken from across the country have DNA of other animals, indicating levels of cross contamination through lack of proper cleaning an infection control protocols.[i]Whilst the report states that this is not necessarily representative of the meat industry as a whole, it does raise a very significant question about cross contamination – why are standards still not being met?
This sort of widespread incident within the food industry is indicative of a much bigger problem that is highly relevant to healthcare industries such as dentistry – namely that people are being put at risk. Therefore, as dental professionals it’s important to consider whether you are doing all within your power to ensure that cross contamination is kept under control in your practice.
The dangers of cross contamination
The repercussions of cross contamination can be wide-reaching and life-changing for those involved. Due to the nature of dentistry and the high exposure dental professionals have with people’s bodily fluids including saliva and blood, a wide array of infections can be easily transferred if proper precautions aren’t taken, with potentially significant consequences.
One particularly infamous case happened in 2013 in Oklahoma, wherein over 7,000 patients had to be recalled due to negligent hygiene standards by a dentist who routinely used rusted tools and other dangerous practices. 60 patients tested positive for HIV and/or hepatitis following this incident,[ii]and as both of these diseases are transferred through blood contact, they could have easily been avoided with proper infection control.
Closer to home in the UK, similar cases of negligence are not unheard of, and it was only a couple of years ago when a dentist near Nottingham prompted the “largest ever patient recall” due to poor cleanliness standards putting over 22,000 patients at risk.[iii]Although, in this case, there were fortunately no reported infections of incurable diseases such as HIV, it does indicate that some practices can still make mistakes when it comes to infection control, and that more needs to be done by professionals to ensure that they are following guidelines appropriately.
A practice wide regime
It’s clear that certain measures should be taken by every professional to help limit the spread of disease. Reusable instruments should be sterilised between appointments and gloves, aprons and other materials that may have come into contact with bodily fluids should be changed, and all surfaces should be disinfected. Professionals should also ensure that they wash their hands before and after treating every patient, so that if they have had any contact with infections, the pathogens are eliminated.
However, these are just the basic steps and more should be done if you really want your practice to fight infection effectively. The surfaces in communal areas also need attention, as these are the areas where footfall is likely to be the greatest and could be a hotspot for disease transmission. Even in a dried drop of blood, diseases such as hepatitis and HIV can live for days,[iv]and if not eradicated these infections could easily transfer to patients or professionals who frequent these areas.
Use effective products
As every area of a dental practice needs to be cleaned effectively, it’s worthwhile finding a solution that is multipurpose and highly effective at deactivating a wide array of pathogens.
One highly efficient choice is the Steri-7 Xtra Range of disinfectants from Initial Medical. Not only does this range contain hand washes, surface cleaners and other products for a multi-pronged approach to infection control, but each product also deactivates 99.9999% of bacteria, spores, fungi, yeasts and viruses. Unlike other cleaning products, these innovative solutions form a protective barrier once they have dried, meaning that germs will have no opportunity to re-establish themselves between cleaning cycles.
Vigilance leads to excellence
Preventing cross contamination can be easy as long as you have the correct protocols in place and follow guidelines to the letter. By ensuring that you keep on top of the required measures and also use products that are highly effective, you can avoid incidents, protecting your patients and the other professionals in your practice from harm.
For further information please visit www.initial.co.uk/medicalor Tel: 0870 850 4045
[i]BBC News. Meat Testing: A Fifth of Samples Reveal Unspecified animals’ DNA. Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45371852[Last accessed September 18].
[ii]ABC News. 60 Oklahoma Dental Patients Test Positive for Hepatitis, HIV. Link: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/60-oklahoma-dental-patients-test-positive-hepatitis-hiv/story?id=18991527[Last accessed September 18].
[iii]BBC News. Nottinghamshire dentist Desmond D’Mello struck off by General Dental Council. Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-37115958[Last accessed September 18].
[iv]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cross-Contamination. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/correctionalhcw/cross.html[Last accessed September 18].
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