On September 17, we recognize World Patient Safety Day. Patient safety is at the forefront of the care dentists provide. In Ontario, dentists follow the Infection Prevention And Control (IPAC) standards as set out by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) to keep their patients safe.
Dentists must also follow guidance set out by other regulatory bodies including the Ontario Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario and local Public Health Units.
Dentists and their teams keep patients safe by:
Screening patients and learning their medical history.
As part of ensuring patient safety, the dentist needs to gather your medical history. Most dental treatment is routine, but it is still important to know about any issues that may cause or exacerbate bleeding or create an allergic reaction. Various conditions and medications can also impact a patient’s reaction to treatment.
Practicing thorough hand hygiene.
Hand hygiene consists of any action of hand cleaning, such as washing your hands using soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub. As an important step to prevent the spread of microorganisms, hand hygiene is done multiple times a day. As per the RCDSO guidelines, if a dentist’s hands aren’t visibly soiled, they should be cleaning them with a hand cleaner that is made up of 70-90 per cent alcohol. If their hands are visibly soiled, they must wash them with running water and an anti-microbial soap.
Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gowns, surgical masks and eye protection.
Doing this protects both the dentists and the patient from the transmission of potentially infectious material. The effectiveness of PPE in medical settings has long been a proven way to ensure patient safety.
Properly sterilizing their equipment between each patient.
The RCDSO states that all the critical and semi-critical equipment used are either heat tolerant and/or single-use items. Heat-tolerant reusable items must be heat sterilized between uses. Any single-use items must be properly disposed of following use.
Undergoing continuous learning.
Dentists and their teams use the most current evidence-based information on IPAC techniques. They pursue continuing education activities as part of their commitment to lifelong learning and as part of their professional obligation.
You should feel comfortable knowing that dentists have your safety at the front of their mind not just on patient safety day, but every day.
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