By Leslie Canham, CDA, RDA
Infection control has been a hot topic, especially during the last year. As dental health-care providers, we must stay abreast of the latest changes in science, technology, and emerging infectious diseases. The best weapon against infection transmission is knowledge. One way to increase your knowledge is by attending infection-control courses, which can be found by contacting your local dental professional organization. In addition to local courses, consider attending the American Dental Association scientific session, and the Annual Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures (OSAP) Infection Prevention symposium.
I recently attended a scientific session and was pleasantly surprised to find new infection-control products and devices. The exhibitors were willing to educate me and answer my questions about their products. For example, surface disinfectants have advanced during the last several years. One exhibitor had a disinfectant that was both a cleaner and a disinfectant in one, which eliminates the need for a second product. He demonstrated how well it cleaned compared to other products by using different brands of disinfectants to clean animal blood off of ceramic tiles. The product met the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation for a disinfectant with a tuberculocidal kill claim. In addition, it had no adverse health warnings so it was safer to use than other disinfectants on the market. It is important to continually review and evaluate products as they become available. This way you can be certain you’re using products that best meet the needs of the practice. To help in selecting a disinfectant for your office, visit the OSAP Web site at www.osap.org/?page=Disinf_Info and look at the 2010 surface disinfectant chart.
Today’s advanced technological devices, such as curing lights, lasers, and digital X-ray sensors, are not heat resistant and should be disinfected and barrier protected. Plastic sleeve barriers can be tricky because they slide around on devices. I found a portable battery-operated curing light that has a plastic ring to hold the barrier sleeve in place. Another find was a new type of portable laser with autoclavable handpiece sleeves. Finally, the manufacturer of a popular dry heat sterilizer introduced sterilization pouches and bags that can withstand the high temperatures of sterilizers. This allows instruments to be packaged or wrapped before being placed in the sterilizer. In the past, these types of dry heat sterilizers would burn or melt any type of package or wrap, making it impossible to follow CDC guidelines for wrapping instruments. These new products can make a big difference in infection-control efforts. But I probably would not have discovered them had I not spent time visiting exhibitors at the scientific session.
OSAP will hold its annual Infection Prevention Symposium June 10 through June 13. This year’s theme is "Shake It Up." The program will present cutting-edge information, skill-building sessions, and numerous opportunities to learn, share, and grow. The educational goals are to overcome complacency, support compliance, advance a culture of safety, and prepare for contingencies. The symposium will be at the Hyatt Regency Tampa in Tampa, Florida, and offers 25 hours of CE credit. For details, visit the OSAP Web site at www.osap.org or call 800-298-OSAP (6727).
Continuing your education regarding infection control can help fine-tune your protocols and practices. There are a number of ways to learn about the latest in cutting-edge technology and products. You can attend courses, visit exhibitors at scientific sessions, and take advantage of the vast Internet resources. The best weapon against infection transmission is knowledge!
Here are some of my favorite Web sites for infection control:
OSAP — The Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures www.osap.org
U.S. Air Force PowerPoint training programs www.airforcemedicine.afms.mil/decs
Centers for Disease Control “Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Healthcare Settings” 2003 www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/InfectionControl/guidelines/index.htm
Centers for Disease Control “Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities” 2008 www.cdc.gov/hicpac/Disinfection_Sterilization/6_0disinfection.html
Centers for Disease Control “Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings” 2002
List of Chemical Disinfectants/Sterilants www.epa.gov/oppad001/chemregindex.htm
Leslie Canham is a dental speaker and consultant specializing in infection control and OSHA compliance. She has more than 36 years of experience in dentistry. Canham is the founder of Leslie Canham Seminars, providing in-office training, mock inspections, consulting, and online seminars and webinars to help the dental team navigate state and federal regulations. Reach Canham at (888) 853-7543 or Leslie Canham.
By Leslie Canham, CDA, RDA