Infection Control

Infection control standards in Australia, developed to protect patients, dentists, practice staff and the public, are among the strictest in the world. Theyare rigorously enforced by a regulatory regime that ties continued registration as a dentist to compliance with infection control guidelines.

While breaches do occur such as the 2015 revelations that a number of dentists had been suspended for not following infection control guidelines, the vast majority of dental professionals work successfully within this framework and non-compliance is rare.

Registered dental practitioners have a legal obligation to comply without exception with the Dental Board of Australia’s policies and guidelines on infection control, ensuring in the words of the Board that “the risk of the spread of infectious diseases is prevented or minimised.”

The Board’s Guidelines on infection control provide clear instructions on the documentation each practice location must have in place, and the types of procedures that registered dental practitioners and other staff must routinely follow.

This strictly enforced regime of infection control is in place not just for the protection of patients but for practice staff as well who come into contact with potentially harmful objects as a matter of course during a standard work day.

Required documentation
The Board has endorsed the ADA’s Guidelines for Infection Control as the professional standard for dental practitioners to follow.

Along with the Self-Assessment Tool for Infection Control and the Practical Guide to Infection Control, both available to ADA members, this publication is intended to provide dentists and practice staff with an officially-sanctioned guide to best practice procedures. These publications were most recently updated in October 2015.

In order to ensure that the existing infection control framework continue to achieve their aim, it is imperative that all practice staff understand the importance of the infection control procedures and why they must follow them exactly and consistently. However, the onus, as always, remains, however, on dentists as the clinical leader in the structured professional relationships model that underpin the practice of dentistry in Australia to ensure that the infection control procedures are in place and adhered to without fail.