Thursday Troubleshooter: RDH bothered by staff cleaning with bleach while patients are still in her chair

June 13, 2019
This dental hygienist is having a hard time convincing the assistant not to clean with bleach while there are still patients in the chair. It's irritating to patients and to her.

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QUESTION: As a hygienist I have a question. Our assistant insists on adding bleach to clean her operatory floor while I'm still working on patients. I've asked her not to add bleach because it burns my eyes and gives me a migraine. She won't listen because she said it kills germs. What should I do?

ANSWER FROM DEBBIE CASTAGNA, founder of Castagna Coaching:
I’m sorry you’re finding yourself in this challenging situation. Of course, because this behavior is continuing and causing you discomfort, it must be clearly addressed again. You didn’t mention if you’ve brought this up with your employer, but I will assume that you haven’t. In preparation for talking to the dental assistant, consider your intention—to be clear, to be confident and calm in your delivery, and to hopefully inspire a change in behavior.  

I’d say something like this: “Susan, I’d like to talk with you again about using bleach to clean while I’m treating patients. My hope is that we can come up with a solution. As you know, the bleach stings my eyes and the smell has given me migraines. I’m very sensitive to bleach and we have to find an alternative. Perhaps we can look into another product or look at cleaning the operatory at another time. Dr. Wonderful may have an idea or Angie, our sales rep, may have another product suggestion. Are you willing to work with me on this?” 

I hope you and the dental assistant can work together on this. If you can’t, you must discuss alternatives with your employer immediately. I wish you all the best.

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