We already know that infection control is paramount for creating safe dental visits by ensuring the safety of patients and staff. Both OSHA and the CDC also support the role of the ICC, with recommendations that every office should have one on-site.
But aside from dental office safety, having an Infection Control Coordinator (ICC) to implement and manage your office infection control prevention plan can bring a multitude of benefits to your practice.
What are the benefits of having an Infection Control Coordinator?
Let’s look at some benefits of hiring a trained ICC or providing training for a team member in your practice that will eventually lead to cost-saving opportunities.
An ICC will ensure the maintenance of all equipment and instruments. For most dental offices, purchasing dental equipment is a significant financial expenditure.
Most of these instruments are comprised of smaller components that can wear out over time through constant use. As they deteriorate, they can become dangerous for both patients and users. Additionally, if something goes wrong with some equipment or machinery, repairs or replacements can be costly.
The primary responsibility of the ICC is to establish compliance with current infection prevention and safety regulations. Part of this role involves ensuring that equipment and supplies are always in peak working condition through regular equipment maintenance.
The ICC is responsible for reviewing the manufacturer’s sterilizing instructions and then developing standard operating procedures (SOPs) and infection control guidelines for the team to follow.
Not only can this minimize any risk factors, but routine maintenance can also extend the life of your instruments, saving you cost on repairs or the need to replace them when they become potentially dangerous to use.
Training for all staff, including new hires
Another responsibility of the ICC is to become a valuable resource on all things relating to infection control and prevention by providing adequate instruction, information, and training to all staff members.
This aspect of the job helps ensure that your employees are competent in performing their specific job duties while also reinforcing the importance of adhering to these protocols during daily operations.
Minimize workplace accidents and injuries
When you have a vigilant and cohesive team working together to avoid infections, you can be confident that your practice delivers the highest level of care to your patients. Accidents and injuries can be kept to a minimum, bringing time and cost-saving benefits along with a safer working environment.
Plus, should an accident occur involving one of your patients, if you have followed protocols and SOPs, you won’t have to have as many awkward or embarrassing conversations, which can ultimately jeopardize your reputation, losing business and money for your office.
Keep office downtime to a minimum
An ICC can keep your practice running like a well-oiled machine with written standard operating procedures in place. So even if someone is out sick or on vacation, your clinic can still operate since another capable staff member can step in and get the tasks done.
There will be no need for downtime, allowing you to continue attending to your patients’ needs.
Comply with state laws
Training, monitoring, documentation, and enforcement of infection protocols are among the responsibilities of an ICC. Documentation includes maintaining a tight record of your office infection control plan, exposure reports, employee records, including training, vaccinations, etc., all of which you may be asked to provide during audits from the state board.
Without an ICC, you may be left scrambling to compile all this documentation and hoping that nothing is out of place or risk a hefty fine that could also affect your reputation. But if you have an ICC, they would have all the necessary paperwork ready and can even quell any queries from auditors.
Authoritative bodies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have standards and recommendations that necessitate ongoing optimization of infection control processes.
Increase patient referrals
With the support of a competent, well-trained ICC, you can be confident that your dental office safety is always compliant with state board regulations. Your patients can also be satisfied that the highest attention is given to their safety and well-being at all times.
Safe dental visits will likely lead to an increase in patient referrals. Beyond this, an ICC can also help your practice save valuable time and money. If you are considering appointing an ICC for your office, whether it is to improve clinic safety or to take advantage of its time and cost-saving benefits, there also needs to be adequate training and empowerment to develop qualified individuals who eat, breathe, and live for infection prevention and control.
Michelle Strange, MSDH, RDH, brings over 20 years of experience to her numerous roles in dentistry. A graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s of health science and the University of Bridgeport with a master’s in dental hygiene education, she is focused on expanding the knowledge of her colleagues in all aspects of health care. Strange’s passion for dentistry and its connection to overall health extends to her community and global efforts. Currently, she is the co-founder and co-host of the longest-running podcast for dental hygienists, A Tale of Two Hygienists, the cofounder of Level Up Infection Prevention and TriviaDent, a practicing dental hygienist, and client success manager for MouthWatch.