A culture of safety

No dental practice is complete without a comprehensive infection control program.

A successful infection control program is integral to a true culture of safety, according to experts. “Both are very important,” says Elaine Olejnik, compliance officer, Great Expressions Dental Centers (GEDC).  “You cannot have one without the other. Careless infection control practices can place the entire dental team and patients at risk for such diseases as Herpes, Hepatitis, HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis. Many of these infections are chronic, life-long and even life-threatening diseases – often carried by individuals who do not know they are infected or fail to share this with the dental team in their medical history. Great Expressions is fortunate in that we have both a culture of safety and a successful infection control program, allowing us to work as a team in providing a safe environment for our employees and our patients.”

Doing so requires “constant team training,” Olejnik continues. “Although this isn’t a barrier, it can be demanding,” she points out. “Continually communicating the what, why and how of current infection control standards and compliance is mandatory.” Agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) can help dental practices implement and adhere to infection control standards. Additionally, Great Expressions has a number of supportive tools (an infection control coordinator within each office, compliance checklists, internal audits, spore test reports, compliance dashboards, etc.) that help ensure the success of its infection control program, she adds.