Who sets the rules for dental infection control? [WEEK 1]

Who sets the rules for dental infection control? [Week 1]football-referee-with-hand-gestures_318-42804.png

Many dentists and staff get quite confused about the rules for infection control.
The Dental Board is the government regulator of dentistry and they say that dental practices should use 3 documents to guide their infection control procedures.

The documents are:

  1. The Australian Standard for reprocessing instruments (e.g how you clean and sterilize instruments) . Unless you are a hospital you will use AS 4815. An alternative standarad is a new version of AS 4187. This is a very very hard standard to meet so just ignore it for now. SmartDentist subscribers have access to AS 4185  via their login. It is 97 pages long and was finished in 2006.
  2. Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare published by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). This document is available online and was finished in 2010 and is 262 pages long.
  3. ADA guidelines for infection control. This has just been revised and is about 50 pages long.

So why have 3 documents, and why don’t they just tell us what to do?

  • Each document is different. Yes, sometimes they can be interpreted to be in conflict or at least not clear about requirements.
  • The easiest document to read and understand is the ADA guidelines.
    ABOUT THE ADA GUIDELINES: Because the ADA is an organisation of dentists it is easy to understand that a government regulator would not be happy in just letting dentists decide on their own standards. Similarly the ADA looked at the other 2 documents which have wide ranging membership and tried to be practical and sensible in what it says dentists should do and use out of those other documents.
  • These documents are the source to go to if you are in dispute about what should be done in your practice.
  • You DON’T really want people to tell you exactly what to do because they don’t work in your building, with your equipment, with your staff or know exactly how your workplace functions. For example; in a big hospital do you need a first-aid kit when staff have access to emergency hospital care; do you need a designated spill kit for large spills of blood in a suburban dental clinic.
  • *When a sales person say…the ADA now requires you to ‘x’ then ask them to show you in the ADA guidelines before you buy their sales item. The ADA is not the government or controling body of dentists. They are a voluntary organisation.

Order of priority (by me)

  1. ADA guidelines: if that still does not solve your dilemma then –
  2. NHMRC guidelines for an overview of concepts and information apon which to base a decision.
  3. AS 4815 on technical requirements for sterilising and record keeping – just remember that it is nearly 20 years old and some things weren’t even invented e.g. USB sticks instead of printers.

NOTE: For those that play tennis, have a hit of golf or drive –

  1. Rules of Tennis – 30 pages
  2. Rules of Golf – 208 pages
  3. Road Rules NSW – 188 pages