By on 6:17 PM

There is a growing concern nationwide amongst the dental and oral surgery community as issues relating to patients exposure in dental offices to Bloodborne Pathogen infection . The latest risk to patients has been brought to the forefront by a dental practice in Tulsa Oklahoma that resulted in approximately 7,000 patients over the course of the past six years, possibly being exposed to Hepatitis and HIV.

Bloodborne pathogens are easily eradicated from the environment, instruments and items used on patients if hospital infection prevention and control practices are adhered to as per evidence-based guidelines. A Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan (BBP-ECP) is a necessity in every dental practice and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employees are protected from the perils of exposure too. It is the responsiblity of clinicians to ensure that instruments which come into contact with blood and body fluids are appropriately cleaned. disinfected and/or sterilized as per guidelines and manufacturer recommendations at all times. Unsafe injection practices in the dental setting contributes to the risk of acquiring Hepatitis and HIV. Sharing of needles and syringes as well as use of multi-dose vials for more than one patient, poses a severe risk of exposure and violation of  appropriate infection control practices.

Effective infection control programs for dental practices is essential to ensure that patients and staff are being kept safe when care is rendered. Dentists and oral surgeons should reach out to infection control experts who specialize in providing guidance and programs for outpatient settings.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.