Infection control: the number one priorityNews
Posted by: The Probe 11th June 2020
Like many healthcare facilities, dental practices can be an ‘at-risk’ place for the transmission of harmful pathogens. Not only do waiting rooms see high footfall and therefore expose people to the possibility of getting infected by others, but dental treatment can also contribute to the risk of disease transmission.
It is for these reasons that infection control continues to be of utmost importance, and why dental professionals should explore different ways to ensure that they keep all staff and patients safe in their practice.
What are the risks during treatment?
All types of surgery, including dental, come with their own risks. The very nature of coming into contact with both saliva and blood leaves professionals at risk of contracting illness if they aren’t properly protected.
All sorts of illnesses can be spread through contact with these bodily fluids. Saliva can carry illnesses such as the flu virus and the common cold, and though these illnesses will not pose a threat to everyonei, there are other pathogens that will. For example, the most recent outbreak of COVID-19. There is also the potential for other diseases to be transmitted from any open sores in the mouth. Viruses such as herpes thrive in the sores they create and can easily be transferred to hands/gloves if these sores are touched during treatment.[i] Herpes cannot be cured and stays in the body for a lifetime.
Blood carries much more worrying risks. Viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B can all be transmitted through blood, and these viruses can cause considerable issues for those who contract them. HIV, though far more manageable than it was mere decades ago, is still incurable, and both strains of Hepatitis can lead to potentially fatal liver problems if not treated.[ii] These diseases can be spread from patient to practitioner if proper safety precautions aren’t taken during treatment, but also from patient to patient if instruments aren’t effectively decontaminated between uses.
In addition, it’s worth remembering that these viruses can also survive in dried blood on surfaces. Hepatitis C can live up to 4 days in dried blood, while Hepatitis B can survive for up to a week.[iii] Similarly, HIV can live in dried blood for up to 6 days, potentially even longer if the blood is not fully exposed to the air.[iv] Although transmission from dried fluids is unlikely, it’s still a risk and one that professionals need to consider when it comes to decontaminating their practice.
Multiple lines of defence
In light of these threats, it is important to routinely evaluate your infection control processes to ensure that you are following the most effective routines, achieving total protection.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the first line of defence for staff and this needs to be fully suitable for each member of the team. Gloves, aprons and other protective wear must fit correctly, not cause any adverse allergic reactions and be regularly changed to prevent any cross-contamination.
When cleaning surfaces, you need to ensure that you concentrate not only on those in surgery, but also those in areas of high footfall such as waiting rooms. Many cleaning solutions may not be suitable for all surfaces, so you need to identify methods that offer appropriate disinfection regardless of where they are used.
One effective way to guarantee that all surfaces are properly disinfected is using the new AIRGENE CE High Level Airborne Disinfectant from Eschmann. Designed for rapid disinfection of hard to reach places, just one 50ml canister can fully disinfect an area of 40m3 (a reasonable sized surgery) of all harmful pathogens in just one hour. This includes all airborne and surface colonising pathogens, meaning that you can have ultimate peace of mind that all spaces are disinfected properly.
A solid defence
Protecting patients and staff alike is a top priority. Ensure that your infection control protocols are in order and that you are using solutions that make keeping on top of disinfection as simple as possible. This way you can minimise the risk of outbreaks occurring in your practice.
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 875787
[i] RDH. Infection Control and Herpes Simplex. Link: https://www.rdhmag.com/infection-control/article/16406510/infection-control-and-herpes-simplex [Last accessed February 2020].
[ii] Healthline. The Effects of Hepatitis C on Your Body. Link: https://www.healthline.com/health/hepatitis-c/effects-on-the-body#1 [Last accessed February 2020].
[iii] Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Cross-Contamination. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/correctionalhcw/cross.html [Last accessed February 2020].
[iv]Medical News Today. Can HIV Live and Spread Outside the Body? Link: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324052#hiv-survival-time-outside-the-body [Last accessed February 2020].
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