The Principles of Infection Prevention

andreacook.jpgby Andrea Cook

There has been talk for some time regarding an update to the Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings, 2003. CDC will not be releasing new guidelines for infection control in dental settings. However, CDC has developed a document entitled Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings Basic Expectations for Safe Care and Companion Checklist. This document summarizes existing recommendations to make them much easier to understand and use in all dental settings including our orthodontic practices. The summary focuses on standard precautions and the foundation for preventing transmission of infectious agents during patient care. The summary is intended to supplement the existing CDC recommendations, not replace them.

The emphasis is the importance of having an individual in every dental practice assigned to be the infection prevention coordinator. That individual would be responsible for developing written infection prevention policies for the practice based on the current standards. The infection prevention coordinator would also ensure that the practice has the needed equipment and supplies required for adherence to standard precaution practices and communicate with all team members to address infection prevention issues.

Although the principles of infection control remain unchanged, new technologies, materials, equipment, and data require continuous evaluation of current infection control practices. The unique nature of many orthodontic procedures, instruments, and patient care settings also may require specific protocols to aid in preventing disease transmission among doctors, team members, and their patients.

I will be presenting a Cutting Edge Webinar on Sterilization in Today’s Orthodontic Practice on April 26th at 7:30 P.M. Central Time. I will be reviewing the current sterilization protocols. I will also include information on this new document and changes to our offices. Please join me. (editor's note: you can register for this webinar here.)

I have developed a written job description for the infection prevention coordinator as well as written infection prevention policies for today’s orthodontic practices. Please contact me to help you and your team implement the new CDC Safe Patient Care Guidelines into your busy practice.

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