Through: Michelle Strange, MSDH, RDH
Infection Control (IC) is vital to protect the health and well-being of both patients and staff in any successful dental practice. It should be a priority to appoint at least one infection control coordinator (ICC) responsible for the safe delivery of care.
What is an Infection Control Coordinator?
The CDC states that an ICC must be well-versed in infection prevention protocols and be willing to continuously update their knowledge to become experts in the field. Additional education and training is required to properly perform the duties of this role, an excellent qualification to add to a resume.
Since 2003, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that every dental office have an ICC. However, nearly 20 years later, many dental offices have still not appointed an ICC. Cough, cough, TWENTY YEARS!
Depending on the size of the office, this could be a person whose entire job is devoted entirely to infection control or a person who devotes some of their time to the task. The latter is more likely in small dental offices where the ICC would wear a pair of caps.
Why are infection control coordinators important?
Sometimes infection prevention may seem logical. But then legacy errors occur and suddenly we have infection control breaches, putting the health and safety of our patients at risk.
Dental care providers are not experts in infection control simply because we have training and experience in dentistry. We drive cars, but that doesn’t mean we know everything there is to know, right?
We may know how to drive, but when our car breaks down, we need the help of a mechanic who understands the nuances of the job. Having someone specially trained to manage infection control is akin to having a qualified mechanic in the car with you.
Benefits of Having an Infection Control Coordinator
The advantages of having or becoming an ICC are countless. The ICC is not someone who just gets a role, and that’s where it ends. For the dental clinic, having an ICC means having a well-written and established infection control plan specifically tailored to the practice.
This is important to ensure compliance or to pass any dental board inspection, and it also helps maintain a high level of security in the office, something that can be used as a marketing tool.
Patients will have peace of mind knowing their safety is assured, immediately raising levels of quality and confidence. And as a dental care provider, we can also feel safe in the quality of care we provide to our patients.
In addition, because part of the ICC’s role is to properly maintain the equipment, it can extend the life of these very expensive items in the dental office.
Infection control specialists protect everyone
Establishing an effective infection control program and having an ICC on site to oversee is critical to patient and staff safety, compliance with regularly changing regulations and guidelines, and the efficient use of resources to ensure the safest possible experience. dental visits for everyone.
The infection control specialist is responsible for portraying a safety culture in the office by leading by example and showing commitment to adherence to critical infection prevention measures.
A coordinator can ensure that everyone involved, from employers to employees, is committed to the safety of the workplace, office, patients and staff. They can also ensure that the practice is always up to date and ready to deal with any significant outbreaks or issues and may be asked to advise on a plan of action in times of high infection risk.
Invest in appointing and training an ICC in your dental office to protect everyone who steps through your doors.
Michelle Strange, MSDH, RDH, brings more than 20 years of experience in her numerous roles in dentistry. She is a graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences and the University of Bridgeport with a master’s degree in dental hygiene education. She is focused on expanding her colleagues’ knowledge in all aspects of healthcare. Strange’s passion for dentistry and its connection to overall health extends to her community and global efforts. She is currently the co-founder and co-host of the longest-running dental hygienist podcast, A Tale of Two Hygienists, the co-founder of Level Up Infection Prevention and TriviaDent, a practicing dental hygienist, and customer success manager for MouthWatch.
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