Your patients want to feel protected, now more than ever

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  Posted by: The Probe      24th July 2020

You may not know yet how Coronavirus will affect your service provision, even in the short-term. It’s a waiting game for everyone and bold decisions maybe unwise. Once your practice is open again, a key issue will be ensuring that your patients feel that it is safe for them to attend. Practices should therefore have a sensible and pragmatic strategy for moving onto the next “phase”.

Maybe you have been using your website, or social media, to get positive messages out and to keep your patients updated. You may also be using these platforms to outline your infection control processes and procedures and how these will be reinforced, post the Coronavirus pandemic.

We are currently in a position where infection control is being talked about outside of the healthcare environment – most people will now know what PPE stands for, when they didn’t before. So, it is possible that they will have questions and concerns about things they took for granted before the outbreak. They might be feeling anxious about what they have read, and unsure whether to postpone routine check-ups when you are able to offer them once more. Gaining the trust of your patients, so that they feel confident about resuming ongoing oral care, is essential. They need to be reassured that they will be safe from the minute they step inside the practice and that every member of the dental team is working safely too.

Temporary or permanent changes?

While your practice was closed, you might have taken the opportunity to make physical changes, for example, to how the waiting area is configured. If you haven’t considered this, ensure that your space allows social distancing to continue, which may involve rejigging the furniture. Whether or not official guidelines change, cramped, busy receptions are going to be a thing of the past, for now at least. In the short-term, you will also want to control the flow of patients coming into the practice, as far as possible.

You may have had a specialist deep clean while routine services were suspended; once you are open, make sure your patients know the additional steps you have taken. They will also need to be reminded about their own, key role in stopping the spread of infections. Posters about hand hygiene, include directions on proper technique, should be displayed everywhere. Patient should be reminded to use and provided with a quality hand sanitiser to use on entering your premises. It must also be made clear that they should stay away if they are feeling unwell or living with anyone who is unwell. Again, use the practice website or social media to restate these messages. If a patient has not seen this guidance, and has turned up anyway, the dental team must use their own judgement about whether treatment can safely go ahead.

Augment your infection control

Dental treatment requires close contact between patient and practitioner. Although infection control was a key issue long before the pandemic, Coronavirus is more easily spread by respiratory droplets, expelled by speaking as well as coughing or sneezing, than other infections. It may also be spread by someone who is asymptomatic, too. The oral cavity is a “reservoir” for pathogenic microorganisms and your patients will likely have questions about face masks.[i] The safe use of face masks for dental practitioners was always a far from black and white subject, partly due to the stop/start nature of some procedures which require a mask to be removed in order to perform another part of the treatment, then re-worn. Regarding the issue of PPE, including what kind of face covering should be worn for varying procedures, practice managers/owners and practitioners can refer to guidance (which are subject to change), set out by public health agencies across the UK.

Your patients will want to know that you have augmented your infection control processes. Has the Coronavirus outbreak highlighted any weak points? Get the team together, virtually if necessary, to go through all your protocols and make sure that they are fully understood by everyone. Before returning to clinical practice, the whole team should be up to date with their infection control knowledge and skills. There is online training available, via a range of different platforms, updated to incorporate information relevant to Coronavirus.

The team must know how to deal with clinical waste, including correct classification and disposal. They must also know the gold-standard for cleaning in between patients. When the team is informed and confident, they can pass on this information and help to build patient confidence that you are operating a safe practice.

To reinforce your infection control, ensure you’re using the very best products. The Steri-7 Xtra range from Initial Medical has a formula that kills up to 99.999% of a broad range of pathogens within seconds of contact; it has also been tested against feline coronavirus; a surrogate for coronavirus*. Micro-emulsion technology means that when applied to surfaces, a microbe-killing barrier remains for up to 72 hours, for residual protection between cleans (if it is not wiped away). The Steri-7 range includes hand sanitisers as well as surface cleaners, for a multi-pronged approach.

You want your patients to return to your practice with confidence. Although a disruption to services was unavoidable, people must not neglect their oral heath for longer than is necessary. A well informed, knowledgeable team, using the best protocols and products, will help all patients feel protected in your care.

 

For further information please visit www.initial.co.uk/medical or Tel: 0870 850 4045

 

Author:

Rebecca Waters, Category Manager, Initial Medical

Rebecca has worked in the Healthcare sector for the past 17years and was a Research Chemist with Bayer Cropscience prior to joining Rentokil Initial in 2003.  She keeps up to date on all developments within the clinical waste management industry and is an active member of the CIWM, SMDSA and BDIA.  

 

-Ends-

About Initial Medical

Initial Medical is an expert in healthcare waste management, providing a complete collection, disposal and recycling service for hazardous and non-hazardous waste and offensive waste produced by healthcare providers, and other businesses and organisations within the UK.

The safe management of healthcare waste is vital to ensure your activities are not a risk to human health.  Initial Medical’s healthcare waste services ensure that all of your waste is stringently handled in compliance with legislation and in accordance with Safe Management of Healthcare Waste best practice guidelines, providing you with the peace of mind that you are adhering to current legislation.

For further information please visit www.initial.co.uk/medical or Tel: 0870 850 4045

Media enquiries:

For more information, please contact:

erica@ekcommunications.net

01227 265700

 

[i] Laheij AM, Kistler JO, Belibasakis GN, Välimaa H, De Soet JJ, European Oral Microbiology Workshop (EOMW) 2011. Healthcare-associated viral and bacterial infections in dentistry. Journal of Oral Microbiology. 2012 Jan 1;4 (1): 17659.

* Steri-7


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