In my experience as an Administrator and Coach, I have found that the “talk” about the use of PPE can sometimes be met with an eye-roll response. In a busy Dental Practice, taking time to go over the basics of PPE can get pushed aside. We learn of a potential world–wide health risk like 2019-nCoV. That reminds us how important it is. PPE is an OSHA requirement for good reason!
This is the most recent news from the CDC about 2019-nCoV and the 2020 strain of Influenza.
“The immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time, according to the CDC, emphasizing the flu is currently a greater threat. The CDC estimates there have been at least 22 million flu illnesses, 210,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths from the flu so far this season.”
“The use of standard precautions within the dental workplace is critical for dental health care professionals to maintain a healthy working environment. Whether the concern is flu, 2019-nCoV or other transmissible illnesses,” said Dr. Maria Geisinger, chair of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. “Proper referral of suspected cases of transmissible illness is a critical role that the dentist can play in reducing the spread of these dangerous diseases.”
PPE is mandated by OSHA
If you are like most Dentist, you have one or more team members that are new to Dentistry. So you may be asked, “Why aren’t my work clothes enough to protect me?” Here is the correct answer:
General work clothes (e.g., uniforms, scrubs, pants, and shirts) are neither intended to protect against a hazard nor considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Wearing gloves, surgical masks, protective eyewear, and protective clothing in specified circumstances to reduce the risk of exposures to bloodborne pathogens is mandated by OSHA.
PPE is designed to protect the skin and the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth of the Dental Healthcare Professional (DHCP) from exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials.
A QUICK REVIEW
Primary PPE used in oral health-care settings includes gloves, surgical masks, protective eyewear, face shields, and protective clothing (e.g., gowns and jackets).
All PPE should be removed before you leave the patient-care areas.
OSHA blood borne pathogens standard requires sleeves to be long enough to protect the forearms. You should change protective clothing when it becomes visibly soiled. All protective clothing should be removed before leaving the work area.
Medical gloves, both patient examination and surgeon’s gloves, are single-use disposable items. Gloves should be changed between patients and when torn or punctured.
Wearing gloves does not eliminate the need for handwashing. Hand hygiene should be performed immediately before donning gloves. Gloves can have small, unapparent defects or can be torn during use. Hands can become contaminated during glove removal.
TRAIN YOUR TEAM
Clearly written policies, procedures, and guidelines are needed. This helps ensure consistency, efficiency, and effective patient care.
Any team member subject to occupational exposure should receive infection-control training:
1. On initial assignment
2. When new tasks or procedures affect their occupational exposure
3. At a minimum, annually as a review.
Do you have a plan for keeping up with all the OSHA and HIPPA requirements of your Practice?
These details can be routinely managed and removed from your TO-DO list!
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