Handling Infection Control Breaches - India Chance + Michelle Strange

If you fail to follow the infection control protocols that you KNOW will prevent the transmission of disease, you’ll find yourself dealing with an infection control breach. In this episode of Talking with the Toothcop, India Chance, Michelle Strange, Andrea, and I wrap up our conversation on infection control breaches. We talk about posting on social media, the CDC’s steps to evaluate an infection control breach, and things you can easily implement to prevent infections in your dental office. Don’t miss it!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:35] Don’t advertise your mistakes on social media
  • [8:51] The CDC’s 6 steps to evaluate an infection control breach
  • [14:45] Your duty to report extends beyond saving your reputation
  • [17:35] Get a fresh perspective on your infection control practices
  • [25:16] Why you should implement video cameras in the dental office

Do NOT do this on Social Media

Michelle has seen dental professionals advertising their mistakes flippantly on social media. One person said they were reusing single-use items and just throwing them in their autoclave. This same person also wasn’t wearing and using utility gloves when necessary. But when something happens in that person’s office and they have a breach, anyone can look on social media and demonstrate a history of non-compliance. Why are they advertising their infection control breaches? Nothing is stopping someone from taking a screenshot and taking that to the state dental board.

India has never had a dental board inspection based on a post on social media. However, class action lawsuits immediately scour social media for breaches that could be used in their case. Anyone suing a dentist will look at social media and they’ll tie-in infection control breaches to whatever the complaint is. 


The CDC’s 6 steps to evaluate an infection control breach

India recently saw a practice post a video on their YouTube channel (and Facebook). It was a training video with multiple practitioners learning how to do procedures. There were probably 15 people in the different operatories. The problem? There was an egregious amount of infection control breaches in the training. She was so shocked they posted it online. 

The CDC outlines six steps to take when an infection control breach happens:

  1. Identify the infection control breach: In the video India mentioned, they weren’t using sterile water, only half of the people were wearing masks, and they reused single-use items in surgery. 
  2. Gather additional data: What was the timeframe of the breach? Which patients did it impact? 
  3. Notify key stakeholders: Notify infection control professionals, risk management, health departments, healthcare providers, etc. 
  4. Perform a qualitative assessment: Categorize your errors and identify risks. 
  5. Make decisions about patient notification and testing:  What patients were impacted? What is the risk of transmission? Do you have a duty to warn patients and the public?
  6. Figure out communication and logistical issues: How and when will you notify the affected patients? Inform them if they’ll need testing done. Have a plan in place to answer media inquiries.

What will you implement to prevent these breaches from happening again? You have to show that you’ve done your due diligence. If you don’t hire an infection control specialist, the CDC has checklists and even has an app. Do something to get ahead of infection control breaches and protect your staff and customers—and reputation.


Get a fresh perspective on your infection control practices

Sometimes, infection control coordinators are too close to the issues at hand. You may have no idea that you’re a few degrees away from where you should be. But a fresh set of eyes can give you a completely different perspective. You don’t have to hire one of us. But, you could work with another practice to trade a staff member or OSHA safety coordinator to do inspections. 

India recommends that you get an admin without clinical experience to take the infection control checklist and do an inspection. They’ll follow whatever is written down word-for-word. They don’t have a bias because they’re going off that checklist—not experience. 

We all agree that a professional can complete the most accurate assessment. They can help you shift and pivot in the right direction. But no matter what, you need buy-in from the doctors and all other employees. How can you foster that buy-in? What can you do to give your staff consistent reminders? Listen to hear our thoughts!

Implement video cameras in your dental office

What about putting a video camera in the dental office? When I was a cop, having a body cam saved me many times. Quality control is so important—and the camera doesn’t lie. A video that you can watch can help you understand context when something doesn’t seem right. It’s why I recommend dental practices put video cameras in operatories and sterilization areas. This can give you an added layer of quality control accountability. It can show you where you’re weak and where things need to be addressed. 

All of the major sports teams film the entire game. They watch it, look for areas to address, and learn and improve. Hospitals and doctor offices use these “extreme” measures. Having oversight won’t hurt you—it will help you. Listen to this episode for our entire conversation around handling infection control breaches and learning what you can do better.

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