Infection Control and Prevention

Public Health Ontario infection control Best Practices document and Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario Standard of Practice updates

Public Health Ontario, through the Provincial Infection Diseases Advisory Committee, have updated their infection control document and changed the name from Infection Prevention and Control for Clinical Office Practice (last revised in April 2015), to Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning for Prevention and Control of Infections in All Health Care Settings, 3rd Edition (April 2018).  The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO), the regulatory body for dental assistants in Ontario, have also updated their Standard of Practice – Infection Prevention and Control in the Dental Office in June 2018.  This has come following updates issued by the Infection Prevention and Control Canada (IPAC), the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).


Online courses with Certificates of Completion

Public Health Ontario has, following this new document, created online courses (IPAC Core Competencies Course) to update your knowledge on the latest standards for infection control in the healthcare setting.  They provide Certificates of Completion for each module completed.  These include Occupational Health and Safety, Chain of Transmission and Risk Assessment, Health Care Provider Controls, Control of the Environment, Administrative Controls, and Additional Precautions.  Many health care employers, including dental practices, are requesting that their employees complete these modules.

NDAEB Domain 3. Clinical Support Procedures

The RCDSO document enumerates the Principles of Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC), Patient Safety, Oral Health Care Workers’ Responsibilities and Safety, Cleaning, Disinfection and Sterilization of Patient-Care Items, Office Cleaning, Housekeeping and Management of Waste, Equipment and Area Specific Practice Guidelines, and General and Surgical Aseptic Techniques.

The NDAEB Domain Description of Dental Assisting discusses Infection Control and Prevention in Domain 3. CLINICAL SUPPORT PROCEDURES, worth 5-10% of the 200 item exam.  This may not represent a large percentage of the total but is a critical component of a dental assistant’s occupation.

Control and Responsibility

Many Healthcare practices have, in recent years, made the evening news for being charged or closed for lack of proper infection control protocols.  A Guelph dental clinic (Ontario) was closed in June 2017 and a Burlington dental office (Ontario) was closed in June 2017, both due to Infection Control Breaches.  Public Health, as mandated by the Ministry of Health, have been visiting healthcare facilities, including dental practices, to audit their Quality Control Programs, including infection control practices.

Infection prevention and control (IPAC) is often the responsibility of the dental assistant, whether it is the sterilization assistant or the clinical dental assistant.

Excerpt from RCDSO Standard of Practice – Infection Prevention and Control in the Dental Office:

The World Health Organization describes IPAC as:

…a practical, evidence-based approach which prevents patients and health workers from being harmed by avoidable infections.  Preventing health care-associated infections avoids this unnecessary harm and at times even death, saves money, reduces the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and supports high quality, integrated, people-centered health services.

Ontario’s Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee (PIDAC) agrees that infection Prevention and Control has never been more important:

Health care-associated infections affect 4% to 10% of patients and result in significant harm to patients/residents/clients.  Maintaining a safe, clean and hygienic environment and minimizing microbial contamination of surfaces, items and equipment within the health care environment is increasingly recognized as an essential approach to reducing the risk of health care-associated infections for all patients/residents/clients, visitors and staff within health care settings.

For the safety of clients/patients, all healthcare providers, including dental assistants, must be current with all infection control protocols, swiftly obtain appropriate training and implementation in the workplace. This will assure the prevention of disease and infection.

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