Working in the health industry means that prevention starts with you. It would be ironical for a patient to visit a medical facility for treatment only to leave with a new infection. Similarly, dentists and helping nurses should be very careful about how they handle dental instruments. The cleaning and sterilizing processes should be done right. Otherwise, your dental clinic will stop attracting patients and start attracting lawsuits.
The CDC has set guidelines on how to prevent and control infections in a dental health center. If you haven’t had the chance to go through the guidelines, the steps below will give you several critical ways in which you could clean, package, and protect your dental instruments.
Keep the patients coming and not the lawsuits by doing the following:
Start with your safety.
Protect yourself first from microbes and other infectious agents that might lead to infections. There are dental PPE (personal protective equipment) provided; use them. Also, make use of face masks, gloves, safety eyewear, impermeable smocks, and any other protective items.
Soak the instruments.
When you are too busy, patients waiting in the lobby holding their cheeks might be disgruntled if you take hours before calling them up. It would be understandable if you are with a patient but would not if you are wasting time cleaning your instrument after every patient leaves. That’s unless you have limited tools, which should not be the case.
Soak your instruments after using them to prevent organic residues from hardening on the instruments. It would be difficult to clean the instruments later on if the residues that built up are hardened.
Clean before you sterilize.
It is advisable and logical to clean the instruments before you steam them. Clean any visible materials on the instruments either through manual scrubbing or by using automated instrument washers and ultrasonic cleaning. Make sure to dry the instruments completely before putting them in an autoclave.
Correctly package the instruments.
The packaging is also as important as the cleaning process. If you package the instruments carelessly, then the cleaning was not necessary as the instruments will end up collecting more microbes. Before placing the instruments into an autoclave, package them in pouches or wraps. Do not squeeze all of your instruments into one pouch. If you do this, the chances that one equipment will not enjoy the sterilization are pretty high. It would also take longer for the autoclave to reach the required temperature. Understandably, you are trying to save time or the electricity bill, but in the end, it will not be worth it if you are risking the safety of your patients.
After sterilizing, store the instruments in clean storage space. You could use the medical cabinets in your clinic or custom corrugated dental packaging boxes. Custom corrugated dental packaging boxes can also be a safe packaging tool if you are going for an appointment outside the clinic.
If you follow the above steps, the only lawsuits you will experience are those in Law and Order or Suits. Properly handling and cleaning dental instruments is not only good for your patients and business but also for your safety and health.