In addition to several references in the press to “dirty dentists” this is the month that the case of Dr D’Mello returned to the GDC. More importantly, when the case is reported in the national press it has the potential to suggest that dental surgeries may not be safe or that cross - infection standards have been disregarded. One way to avoid such suspicion is to share your infection control routines with your patients at an early stage when they first come for treatment; adopt an “open house” policy.
While deficiencies in infection control can often be the primary or sole reason for a complaint against a dentist, allegations of this nature are sometimes made as secondary issues in complaints that are primarily about something entirely separate.
Patients do not always voice their concerns about issues such as this. Unspoken concerns, sometimes based upon incorrect assumptions or misunderstandings, can be particularly dangerous, as the practice team does not have the opportunity of resolving these issues with the patient before matters escalate. For this reason, it makes good sense to operate an “open house” policy, in which patients are invited and actively encouraged to ask questions or to raise any concerns they have in the field of surgery hygiene or infection control. This gives the practice team the opportunity of demonstrating to the patient at first hand, the various steps taken within the practice to ensure the safety of every patient in their care.
The perceptions of patients are not always logical, and although the risk of transmission (especially of blood borne viruses) from patient to dentist is much greater than the reverse, many patients assume that dentist team members wear gloves primarily to protect the patient. The perception of many patients is that they are “safer” and less vulnerable to infection if the dentist and staff always wear gloves. Indeed, many complaints have centred on this single concern alone.
- You can complete our infection control module online on Prism. This 30 minute interactive module highlights the common risks and pitfalls associated with cross-infection control and suggest ways of managing these areas of risk.