As you open your dental practice after the extended holiday period take a few minutes to carry out these infection prevention and control safety checks:
1. Your most important check after any extended period of closure will be to your water systems:
- flush the dental unit waterlines for two to three minutes prior to commencing a patient treatment session;
- even where it has been stored in a fridge, distilled water should be used within 24 hours if its quality is to be guaranteed – in practices where water distillation units are in use, this may necessitate using bottled sterile water until enough fresh distilled water has been produced;
- where reverse osmosis (RO) systems are in operation, run the RO machine for at least 20 seconds at the start of the day, then check the water quality using your conductivity meter; and,
- water in your taps and pipework may have stagnated over the holiday period. It is therefore good practice to run sink taps for a minute or two. This includes your non-clinical areas such as staff kitchen and bathrooms. Freshen up the bathrooms by flushing the toilets.
2. Regarding autoclave testing, it a good idea first day back to run your weekly vacuum test on the cold chamber. Then, time permitting, the steam penetration test-cycle can run with either a Helix/Bowie Dick test. If time does not permit, the steam penetration test can be carried out during the first instrument sterilisation cycle.
3. Turn on the dental compressor and suction motor. Observe these items running for a minute or two to ensure they are operating correctly.
4. In clinical areas, such as the dental surgeries and decontamination areas, you should quickly look over the counter tops and flat surfaces. If you think that dust has settled then carry out a quick wipe down prior to repositioning stored items such as the dental curing light, amalgamator/capsule mixing machine, ultrasonic scaler, etc. Check your stock levels of gloves, facemasks, paper hand towels, etc.
5. Finally, run a critical eye over the general external and internal environment of your practice. Check that waste bins don’t need emptying, and that the waiting room/reception area/public toilets are in order. (Christmas decorations/posters may have come loose or fallen down over the holiday period).
The above list is not exhaustive however I hope you find it a useful guide as you get back to work.
Wishing you a happy and prosperous new year.