Infection control: How NOT to get sued … and a whole lot more

The last time patients cared this much about our infection control procedures was the early 1980s when the news of HIV went mainstream. COVID-19 translation? Your patients really care right now!

So if you’re anything like me, and you want your practice to be on its A+ game, answer these three simple questions. 

  1. Are we as a practice already doing everything right?

Before you assume yes, know this. Data tells the truest story. Here’s the data:

  • 66% of dental practices are non-compliant with sterilization monitors.
  • 36% of dental practices transport contaminated instruments on a loose tray.
  • 29% of dental practices hand-scrub instruments for sterilization.

In short, plenty of practices believe they’re doing it right … yet … are not. 

If you’d like the shortcut answers to what the CDC, your State Boards, and OSHA want from you and your dental practice, check out Greenlight. It’s a one stop shop with exactly what you and I need to know.

2. If we are presently non-compliant, what do we need to do to clean things up?You can, of course, hire an infection control consultant. This is an excellent path if you want your hand held. Yes, you’ll need to write a check. Also, yes, an expert will come to you and make it so.

You can go to your favorite distributor rep. Dan Duke, my extra-awesome Patterson Dental rep was already in our office every few weeks dropping knowledge. Once per year, he worked his magic and made sure we were up to speed.

You can click the same Greenlight link. I put it here again because, well, I know you’re a dental pro and I know you skipped it above. 🙂

What’s the key? Knowing what needs to be corrected and to take action to correct it.

3. If we are today, or will be after today, conquering number two, how do we best let our patients know it?

This step is our bring it full-circle reward for being compliant and delivering what our patents want … to know they’re safe!


Website and Reviews: It’s 2021, and friends and patients are choosing us based on what other patients are saying on line. In fact, studies show over 40% of our patients are choosing us this way. That’s scary if you’re not in the game … or not playing the game at a high level. However, it’s exciting if you are, and you’re leveraging every strength the other players don’t have.

Social Media: Although you definitely NEED (yes, NEED) an excellent website these days, showing off everything you do well on social media is a win. Knowing your top 20% patient avatar is key. Here’s an example. Baby Boomers are on Facebook so, if that’s your top 20% patient, get good at Facebook. Gen X, Y and Z are on Instagram, so same rules apply. The industry is on LinkedIn, so you don’t need to be there unless you’re trying to impress an industry pal.

Phones: Please don’t forget the ultimate marketing tool you already pay for. Your phone is a simple and effective way to let every patient and potential patient know what you do differently. 


Walking in: There’s a difference between meeting someone and greeting them. Greet your patients. Re-share your why you’re communicating with them before they walk in. Re-share why you’re taking temperatures. And take the 30 seconds to share every infection control difference you’re bringing.

Walking around: If you’re giving an office tour, you already get it. Just be sure to include an extra 30 seconds on your sterilization area. It’s worth it. If you’re not, start. I know you think your patients don’t need it. They will however, very much appreciate it and tell your story when you do.

Walking out: Wrap up the essentials. Get them scheduled. Ask them if whomever worked on them was as amazing as every patient shares they are and ask them for two friends or family members they know who’d appreciate the same incredible experience. You have a captive audience. Maximize it.

Bringing it home

Wrapping up, there is no need to reinvent the wheel on infection control, but stay at the very top of your game to avoid any legal action. It can happen, so up your game. Take the shortcuts. Use your existing relationships. Copy genius.

Until next time, Together We Rise


Next read: Dealing with Imposter Syndrome in your dental career

David Rice

David Rice

Founder of the nation’s largest student and new-dentist community, igniteDDS, David R. Rice, DDS, travels the world speaking, writing, and connecting today’s top young dentists with tomorrow’s most successful dental practices. He is the editorial director of DentistryIQ and leads a team-centered restorative and implant practice in East Amherst, New York. With 27 years of practice in the books, Dr. Rice is trained at the Pankey Institute, the Dawson Academy, Spear Education, and most prolifically at the school of hard knocks.