Whether you’re a small, standalone dental surgery or part of a large franchise, the issue of infection control carries more weight than ever when it comes to the safety and reputation of your practice – not only with your customers, but also in the eyes of the CQC.
Injuries sustained from wire and needle stick accidents, bites, and the cleaning surgical equipment prior to autoclaving are all very much a reality in the world of dental surgery – and it’s not just the surgeon carrying out the procedure that is at risk. In fact, on many occasions it is assisting staff, such as nurses and hygienists that have been the unfortunate recipients of sharps injuries which have occurred during the transfer or disposal of equipment. It is, therefore, no surprise that the British Dental Journal stated that there is a 56% chance of a dental practitioner receiving a needle stick injury in a 1-year period.
As well as pain and stress, a sharps injury carries with it the potential of acquiring up to 20 blood borne infections. Some can be treated with relative ease and carry little threat, but viruses such as Hepatitis B, C and HIV can be life-threatening, with 1 of 3 people contracting Hepatitis B from a sharps accident, and at least 4 UK healthcare workers known to have died following occupationally-acquired HIV.
Along with the physical and psychological effects that occur upon sustainment of a sharps injury, the expense of testing, monitoring, treatment and the temporary – and sometimes permanent – loss of an experienced professional can lead to hefty costs. Of course, this does not account for penalties, compensation, fees and insurance that can be brought about if an employee decided to involve the courts. As a result, those intangible costs to your reputation and employee morale can be the greatest of all - and the hardest to overcome.
Developing a smart strategy
In order to reduce the risk of infection, it is essential that your practice employs a strategy that is developed around the safety and protection of all staff and patients. A substantial solution comprises education, the promotion of good practice and safety-engineered equipment that helps eliminate the hazard.
When it comes to picking the right sharps container for your dental practice, there are lots of things to consider. With a reputation to think about and employees and visitors to protect, it’s no longer enough to base your decisions on price alone. Instead, it is advisable to look for a product that meets as many of your core needs as possible. The safest sharps containers on the market include features such as safe disposal, leak, puncture and tamper-proof, large capacity, hand-entry restriction and a permanent locking mechanism.
Whilst disposable containers do tend to meet current guidance on disposal of sharp waste, they often have the inherent problems of assembly, labelling and the use of temporary closure methods that make a safe disposal system difficult to enforce and manage. They are also disposed of via incineration, which but can also become expensive over a short period of time. Many businesses are switching to reusable sharps containers due to the significant cost and environmental benefits that go hand-in-hand with their durability.
Whilst choosing the right equipment for your practice is critical, regular education is equally important in maintaining a safe environment for staff and patients alike and staying abreast of changing standards.
From training modules to posters advising what to do in the event of a sharps injury, a healthcare education expert, such as Sharpsmart, can provide all of the online and offline materials your practice needs in order to stay compliant and – more importantly – protected.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a solution that can help reduce the risk of infection control and help strengthen your reputation, it’s definitely worth exploring the market and seeing which supplier can give you the most value and peace of mind. After all - your practice is worth it.
Posted by Gemma