Dental assistants play key role in infection control
Dental assistants are often the dental team members in charge of infection control. It's a big job, and there are many resources to help with the responsibility.
This article originally appeared in Dental Assisting & Office Manager Digest. Subscribe to the monthly e-newsletter here.
September is Dental Infection Control Awareness Month, as designated by the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP). This campaign reaffirms and promotes the dental community’s commitment to infection control by adopting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings: Basic Expectations for Safe Care and Companion Checklist,” and by supporting infection control coordinators.
The Dental Assisting National Board Inc. (DANB) and its affiliate, the DALE Foundation, are dedicated to public protection and know that dental assistants play an important role in patient safety. Dental assistants are often responsible for performing infection control duties in the office, with many dental assistants serving as the dental infection control coordinator.
According to DANB’s latest dental assistant survey, 81% of dental assistants who hold DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification are responsible for infection control-related tasks, while 74% of non-certified assistants perform these duties.
Whether a dental assistant is new to the profession or has many years of experience, it is important to know proper infection control protocol, especially since the dental assistant may be tasked with these duties.
DANB and the DALE Foundation offer several resources to support infection control compliance.
Passing DANB’s Infection Control (ICE) exam is a way to demonstrate knowledge-based competency in infection control. Dental assistants must pass DANB’s ICE exam to earn CDA certification. DANB’s ICE exam is also a component of DANB’s Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) certification and DANB’s National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) certification.
The DALE Foundation offers several materials to help dental professionals review infection control topics or prepare for DANB’s ICE exam:
Additionally, the DALE Foundation and OSAP collaborated on a new online Continuing Dental Education ArticleTM (CDEA®): Understanding CDC’s Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings (two CDE credits), available through the DALE Foundation’s website.
To learn more about OSAP and Dental Infection Control Awareness Month in September, visit OSAP’s website.