A_Werner_HS_201302For the last month, we’ve all been reading the stories tracking the measles outbreak sourced to Disneyland. Today, I woke up to a new headline in my local paper, the Los Angeles Times: “Superbug Infects Patients at UCLA.” The latest story, if you haven’t heard, is that some 180 patients at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center may have been exposed to CRE, or carbapenem-resistent Enterobacteriaceae, a drug-resistant and potentially deadly bacteria. Contaminated endoscopes, specifically a specialized endoscope inserted down the throat to treat cancer, gallstones, and other digestive system conditions, is thought to be the culprit. While UCLA said it has been cleaning the scopes according to manufacturer’s guidelines, that may not have been enough. The outbreak—and similar ones at other hospitals in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Seattle in the last few years—is raising questions about the risk of disease transmission with this type of reusable medical equipment, as the design may make them more difficult to effectively clean.

What these two stories have done is highlight again that the risk of infection is everywhere—from the local amusement park to the local hospital. And that even when correct procedures are followed, as in the case at UCLA, the risk of infection can still be there. I don’t say this to be alarmist. I say it to remind you that infection control is an aspect of your practice that needs to be addressed consciously every day, and re-evaluated as the situation demands.

In this month’s issue, we talk to Jackie Dorst, RDH, BS, an expert on infection prevention, instrument sterilization, and OSHA safety in the orthodontic space. She offers some great reminders on the importance of having an orthodontic clinical coordinator to ensure that the entire staff is well-educated and current on correct infection control protocols for the practice. In addition, she talks about how the measles outbreak highlights the need for infection control in nonclinical areas of the office.

Your practice’s infection control efforts are a key way to build a patient/parent’s trust in you as an orthodontic provider. As Dorst points out, patients and parents are often quite savvy when it comes to infection-prevention protocols and a misstep by a staff member can leave a bad impression. Make sure you and your staff are taking all the right steps to have happy and healthy patients leave your practice. OP




Alison Werner

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