Whether you’re back in the practice or preparing to go back, the new normal may mean everyday dental practice life, at least for now, will include some downtime. This can be put to good use to make progress on things you have been meaning to do.
It’s a good time to identify, implement, and achieve your ideal infection prevention and control (IPC) goals so when business returns to normal you’re ready to go! Back to delivering safe and compliant dental care for your patients same but different perhaps.
Why It Is Important to Review Regulatory Requirements for Dental Practices?
Now more than ever is the time to ensure the whole team is confident with regulatory requirements. Standards and industry guidelines must be adhered, to create safe working environments for both dental team members and patients.
Standards are overarching documents for Infection Prevention and Control that industry standards and guidelines are based on. The two most relevant Standards for dental practices are joint Australia and New Zealand Standards:
- AS/NZS4187:2014 Reprocessing of reusable medical devices in health service organisations
- AS/NZS4815:2006 Office-based health care facilities – Reprocessing of reusable medical and surgical equipment, and maintenance of the associated environment
Infection Control Guidelines in Australia & New Zealand
In Australia - Dental treatment and the business of dentistry are governed by the Dental Board of Australia (DBA) who have published (IPC) guidelines and key documents that must be complied with. The core message of the ADA is that dental practitioners should practice in a way that enhances public safety preventing or minimising the risk and spread of infectious diseases in the dental setting. Now is a great time to focus on what that means.
The key documents you should refer to and have are current editions of:
- National Health and Medical Research Commission (NHMRC) Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (May 2019)
- Australian Dental Association Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental (3rd Edition 2015)
In New Zealand - The Health and Disability Commissioner oversees care provided by all healthcare providers and has a Standard:
· NZS 8134.3:2008 Health and Disability Services (Infection Prevention and Control) Standard
This document contains useful guidance and references of the AS/NZS Standards.
Along with the Standards, which are not dental-specific, the Dental Council of New Zealand and the New Zealand Dental Association have created documents that offer relevant information and practical advice on how to manage and implement IPC policies and procedures in dental practice.
· Dental Council of New Zealand (DCNZ) IPC Practice Standard (May 2015)
· New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) Code of Practice for IPC in Dental Practice
Practices must all have access to, either in digital or print format, the relevant documents for their region. Staff should be familiar with the contents of these documents and have readily available access to them.
The Importance of Updating Your Policies and Procedures Manual
In addition to guideline documents, the regulations require each practice to have its own Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) - Policy and Procedures Manual.
To remain relevant the IPC manual must be continually reviewed and updated with changing information such as new product Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), new or improved protocols for best practice, new directives from health authorities, new and existing equipment details and maintenance procedures. The list is long, and it is not uncommon for IPC manuals to become outdated and unhelpful very quickly. Time taken to review and update the practice IPC manual is time well spent.
Steps To Have A Successful Policy and Procedures Manual
Step 1: Establish
Use relevant industry guidelines along with the appropriate standard to write policies for all elements of your IPC workflows. Policies should be concise and include the why and the what of the process.
Step 2: Implement
Once the policies are in place they need to be supported with written procedures for practical implementation. Procedures are the how of the IPC workflow. They provide clear work instructions, so all members of the team know what the steps are to achieve the required outcomes.
Step 3: Review
Practice Policy and Procedure manuals should be living, breathing documents, not kept on the shelf unused. They need to be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure they contain the most accurate and up to date IPC requirements.
If you have a manual already, this is the time to review it and update where necessary.