It’s time to up the ante on infection control


  Posted by: Dental Design      5th August 2020

With the current emphasis on infection control, it makes sense for dental professionals to review their approach to infection control and ensure that they are doing everything possible to prevent the spread of viruses, bacteria and other pathogens within their practice.

But where should you begin?

A staff refresher

Infection control is only as good as the people performing it, and therefore the most important thing to do is to ensure that everyone in your dental practice is on the same page. A good approach is to hold an open floor meeting or virtual meeting for those colleagues working off site, on this topic and encourage people to ask questions and raise any individual concerns. It may also be worth supplementing this with information packs, visual aids and demonstrations on how to use cleaning products effectively – it’s likely that this is all information that people will be aware of, but there’s no harm in being thorough. This is also the ideal time to talk through the Department of Health’s Safe Management of Healthcare Waste Memorandum and confirm that your employees are aware of proper waste categorisation and disposal.

This sort of gathering is a good way to boost team morale, especially if you also use it as a chance to encourage staff to voice their opinions and work together to brainstorm ways to approach infection control more efficiently. This will help encourage teamwork and problem solving – a win/win situation.   

Update your PPE

Proper use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is critical in healthcare environments, and therefore needs to be evaluated regularly to ensure that everyone is using their PPE as they should. For a start, gloves need to be well-fitted and comfortable, have tight cuffs to prevent contaminants coming into contact with the hand so as to not cause any adverse reactions for the wearers. Gloves should be changed between patients and disposed of by the correct waste disposal method, depending on what contact there has been with patients and/or bodily fluids.

Disposable, liquid resistant coverings for uniforms such as aprons are also important, especially as these can effectively prevent pathogens in bodily fluids such as blood or saliva from soaking into more porous materials like fabric, and therefore limit the spread of illnesses. Much like gloves, any eye protection should also be well-fitting, comfortable and disposable or regularly disinfected if possible.

Handwashing advice for staff and patients

Before wearing a new pair of gloves, it’s a good idea to ensure that your employees wash their hands correctly. This adds another level of protection against disease transmission, and helps to eliminate any small chance that pathogens could still be on hands before treating a new patient.

For patients, hand hygiene is just as important. Have you considered making hand sanitiser readily available in patient-focused areas such as the waiting rooms? It’s also a smart move to print out clear instructions about handwashing and the correct technique that people need to follow in order to clean their hands effectively.

Another approach is to offer patients hand sanitiser when they come into the surgery for treatment – this is a good way to help prevent any contamination of surfaces while they are in the chair.

Sterilising instruments

Of course, your decontamination equipment is a top priority. Autoclaves, steam sterilisers and any other equipment you have for this purpose should be maintained regularly, and all validation and compliance cycles should be performed and clearly recorded so that you are instantly aware if there is a problem or a malfunction.

In many ways, these systems are some of the most important in your practice, and if one of these machines stops working it’s inevitable that you may struggle to meet the needs of your patients in a timely manner, or even have to reschedule appointments, causing inconvenience.

When was the last time you checked what sort of maintenance or breakdown cover you have for these systems? Could you upgrade to a newer model which makes infection control easier and stress-free? It is worthwhile checking these things and weighing up the benefits of new systems, if you think that they will have a positive impact on your infection control abilities.

Cleaning products for all surfaces

In such a high-risk environment as a dental practice, you really need to find cleaning products that allow you to take a multi-pronged approach against all pathogens. It’s important to identify products that can be used on all surfaces, especially as certain viruses and bacteria can potentially live longer on some surfaces than others.

The Steri-7 Xtra range of disinfectants from Initial Medical includes a wide array of products such as hand washes, surface cleansers and more, meaning that you can take a multi-pronged approach to infection control. Steri-7 kills up to 99.9999% of a broad range of pathogens within seconds of contact and has been tested against feline coronavirus; a surrogate of coronavirus*. Steri-7 surface sanitisers utilise specially formulated micro emulsion technology that applies an active Barrier which can persist and kill for hours afterward. Our supplier’s Laboratory testing showed the barrier killing microbes (including pathogens) 72 hours after application. So long as the barrier is not wiped away, our treatment provides residual protection and biosecurity reassurance between cleans.

Better to be safe than sorry

At the end of the day, infection control is something that professionals need to prioritise now more than ever. With recent events showing how easily a virus can spread widely, extra vigilance is required from all staff to ensure that dental practices remain as safe a space as possible for all.

Find out more today.

*Source: Steri-7


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Rebecca Waters, Category Manager, Initial Medical

Rebecca has worked in the Healthcare sector for the past 17years and was a Research Chemist with Bayer Cropscience prior to joining Rentokil Initial in 2003.  She keeps up to date on all developments within the clinical waste management industry and is an active member of the CIWM, SMDSA and BDIA.  



About Initial Medical

Initial Medical is an expert in healthcare waste management, providing a complete collection, disposal and recycling service for hazardous and non-hazardous waste and offensive waste produced by healthcare providers, and other businesses and organisations within the UK.

The safe management of healthcare waste is vital to ensure your activities are not a risk to human health.  Initial Medical’s healthcare waste services ensure that all of your waste is stringently handled in compliance with legislation and in accordance with Safe Management of Healthcare Waste best practice guidelines, providing you with the peace of mind that you are adhering to current legislation.

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