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3 Important Infection Control Procedures

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

Infection prevention and control (IPAC) is a scientific approach and practical solution designed to prevent harm caused by infection to patients and health workers. It is grounded in infectious diseases, epidemiology, social science and health system strengthening.

There are several measures we can take in order to control the spread of infections, especially in the context of the dental industry. These measures include thoroughly disinfecting/sterilizing equipment used with patients, wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), effective hand hygiene and proper handling of needles and other sharp objects. However, the three that this article will focus on are, performing hand hygiene, personal protective equipment and ensuring appropriate patient placement/guidelines.

1. Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene is the most important measure to prevent the spread of infections among patients and dental health care workers (DHCW). Education and training programs should thoroughly address indications and techniques for hand hygiene practices before performing routine and oral surgical procedures.

For routine dental examinations and nonsurgical procedures, use water and plain soap (hand washing) or antimicrobial soap (hand antisepsis) specific for health care settings or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Although alcohol-based hand rubs are effective for hand hygiene in health care settings, soap and water should be used when hands are visibly soiled (e.g., dirt, blood, body fluids). For surgical procedures, perform a surgical hand scrub before putting on sterile surgeon’s gloves. For all types of hand hygiene products, follow the product manufacturer’s label for instructions.

Key HAND HYGIENE for Dental Settings

Perform hand hygiene:

a. When hands are visibly soiled.

b. After barehanded touching of instruments, equipment, materials, and other objects likely to be contaminated by blood, saliva, or respiratory secretions.

c. Before and after treating each patient.

d. Before putting on gloves and again immediately after removing gloves.

  • Use soap and water when hands are visibly soiled (e.g., blood, body fluids); otherwise, an alcohol-based hand rub may be used.

2 . Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to wearable equipment that is designed to protect DHCW from exposure to or contact with infectious agents. Choose PPE that is appropriate for various types of patient interactions and effectively covers personal clothing and skin likely to be soiled with blood, saliva, or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). These include gloves, face masks, protective eyewear, face shields, and protective clothing (e.g., reusable or disposable gown, jacket, laboratory coat).

Examples of appropriate use of PPE for adherence to Standard Precautions include:

  • Use of gloves in situations involving possible contact with blood or body fluids, mucous membranes, non-intact skin (e.g., exposed skin that is chapped, abraded, or with dermatitis) or OPIM.

  • Use of protective clothing to protect skin and clothing during procedures or activities where contact with blood or body fluids is anticipated.

  • Use of mouth, nose, and eye protection during procedures that are likely to generate splashes or sprays of blood or other body fluids.

DHCW should be trained on how to select and put on and remove appropriate PPE, so the chance for skin or clothing contamination is reduced. Hand hygiene is always the final step after removing and disposing of PPE. Training should also stress preventing further spread of contamination while wearing PPE by:

  • Keeping hands away from face.

  • Limiting surfaces touched.

  • Removing PPE when leaving work areas.

  • Performing hand hygiene.

3. Isolate and Stay Safe:

  • Here is an in-depth explanation of the different types of isolation practices, according to the type of facility as well as examples, shared by the CDC: Isolation Precautions | Guidelines Library | Infection Control

  • At a healthcare facility, it should always be important to maintain distance amongst the patients and between the patients and staff; however, that has not always been strictly implemented. Nonetheless, after 2020’s widespread COVID19 outbreak, patient placement has become a key component in maintaining a safer environment. Maintaining a 6 feet distance has become a regularly integrated practice in all facilities and even waiting areas have spaced out their chairs, some even leaving empty chairs between to ensure the distance is maintained. This is especially important in order to not only ensure you are at a healthy distance from potentially infected individuals but to also ensure your germs do not infect somebody else.

Controlling the spread of infections is, undoubtedly, crucial and must be enforced by healthcare personnel, however, without the support and cooperation of patients and visitors, it can become very difficult to ensure a safe environment which is why we must all do our part in keeping our community safe.

Do not wait any longer. Book your office compliance training with SQ Dental TODAY!

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