The real cost of equipment breakdown

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  Posted by: Dental Design      27th May 2024

Productivity and efficiency are crucial within the dental practice today to ensure that patients receive safe and effective care, and that the practice experiences the greatest levels of uptime to provide such treatments. There are many different factors that can impact the dental team’s ability to deliver dental services. For example, if essential infection control equipment like your autoclave were to malfunction or breakdown completely, this would significantly impact patients, the professional team and the business in a number of ways.

Patient care suffers

The first, and most important, issue caused by an autoclave breakdown is its impact on patient care. When the decontamination process is paused, the team will quickly run out of sterilised reusable instruments, meaning that appointments must also be halted until a resolution is found.

A survey[i] from last year, although focusing on all NHS services, found that 66% of patients believed cancelled care appointments impacted their lives due to on-going pain, worsening symptoms, reduced mental health and other reasons. Though no data exists specifically for dental patients, it is likely that delaying dental care provision would have a similar effect on patients. The lack of access to dentistry and huge demand for services would also make rescheduling appointments difficult, meaning that individuals could wait some time before being seen.

Financial implications

For the practice there are several financial implications of equipment malfunctions. Firstly, the cost of an emergency engineer callout could set the practice back £50-250. That’s before they have assessed the damage, made repairs, ordered parts or offered a replacement. Depending on the issue, finding a solution could cost several hundreds more, which is money that the practice will have to pay immediately.

At the same time, the business will suffer a significant loss of income. For a single surgery practice, cancelling one day of appointments could mean losing £1,000-£2,000. But what if the engineer can’t get to the practice until the next day? What happens if the issue can’t be resolved there and then? What if it takes another 24 hours after the problem is identified to receive the necessary new parts? For a multi-surgery practice that ends up having to cancel two days of appointments, the financial implications are substantial.

Team impact

Individual team members will feel the effects of mass appointment cancellations too. Associates, for example, will be impacted financially with loss of earnings where they are unable to deliver treatment to patients.

The whole team will also likely be affected by the increased stress that surgery downtime can cause. Dentistry can, at times, be a stressful profession, with over 50% of dentists,[ii] 45% of dental hygienists and therapists,[iii] and 85% of dental nurses[iv] experiencing stress and anxiety in the UK. Disruptions to the daily schedule and the resulting discontent from patients is likely to create a more difficult environment for the team. This could contribute to the long-term stress of the team which in turn has been linked to reduced productivity[v] and job satisfaction.[vi]

Beyond the immediate concerns

Although all these elements will negatively impact the dental practice, the real cost of equipment breakdowns goes even further. In today’s world, a single unforeseen event – particularly if managed poorly or not sufficiently prepared for – can leave a lasting impression and derail the business’ reputation.

If the only autoclave in a dental practice stops working and two days of appointments are cancelled, many of the affected patients could go elsewhere and some will not return. They will tell their friends and family about the inconvenience and are unlikely to recommend the practice, negatively affecting its reputation in the local community. If the autoclave were to break a second time six months later, this could spell disaster for the business. Not only will practice growth be restricted, but the value of the business could decrease too.[vii]

Peace of mind

To avoid all of this, it’s essential to minimise the risk of infection control equipment breakdowns. This begins with the implementation of effective products. HTM 01-05[viii] sets out an array of aspects that must be assessed during the procurement process to ensure the selection of equipment that is fit for purpose and fully complaint. The document also highlights the importance of adequate equipment maintenance and servicing to ensure that the autoclave continues to function effectively and efficiently.

Eschmann offer total peace of mind with their Care & Cover servicing and maintenance programme. This gives practices access to a network of 50+ Eschmann trained engineers across the nation, who are committed to getting your autoclave and your practice back up and running quickly, with minimal downtime. They fix 91% of issues on their first visit when called out to practices, with original manufacturer parts in their vans as standard and an unparalleled knowledge of Eschmann equipment and technologies. Plus, the Care & Cover package covers washer disinfectors and RO Water Systems and incorporates Annual Validation and Pressure Vessel Certification (PSSR), annual service and software upgrades, unlimited breakdown cover, unlimited Eschmann parts and labour, and Enhanced CPD user training.

The real cost of equipment malfunctions or breakdowns in the dental practice is huge. Protect your patients, your team and your business by looking after your infection control equipment.


For more information on the highly effective and affordable range of infection control products from Eschmann, please visit or call 01903 753322



[i] Healthwatch. Delays to NHS care: Understanding the impact. July 2023. [Accessed march 2024]

[ii] British Dental Association. Dentists face challenging environment. December 2021. [Accessed March 2024]

[iii] Hallett, G., Witton, R. & Mills, I. A survey of mental wellbeing and stress among dental therapists and hygienists in South West England. Br Dent J (2022).

[iv] Hatchard, J. British Association of Dental Nurses mental health and wellbeing survey August 2023. Br Dent J 235, 596–597 (2023).

[v] Bui T, Zackula R, Dugan K, Ablah E. Workplace Stress and Productivity: A Cross-Sectional Study. Kans J Med. 2021 Feb 12;14:42-45. doi: 10.17161/kjm.vol1413424. PMID: 33654542; PMCID: PMC7889069.

[vi] Jaafar, Syaiful. (2021). The Relationship between Stress and Job Satisfaction. International Journal of Business and Management. 5. 8-12. 10.26666/rmp.ijbm.2021.1.2.

[vii] Pfister, B., Schwaiger, M. & Morath, T. Corporate reputation and the future cost of equity. Bus Res 13, 343–384 (2020).

[viii] Department of Health. Health Technical Memorandum. 01-05: Decontamination in primary care dental practices. [Accessed March 2024]

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