In 2021, the Dental Board of Australia (Board) reviewed its guidelines on infection control following a consultation process. The result was a fact sheet and self-reflective tool for dental practitioners along with a FAQs page, following the retirement of the guidelines on 30th June 2022.
The Board has indicated that of course, practitioners are expected to practice safely and in a way that minimises the spread of infection. The Board notes that they will no longer be prescriptive about practice guidelines, and that practitioners should exercise their professional judgement in following guidance and processes that are evidence-based, safe, and appropriate for a particular practice setting. The Board emphasized that if dental practitioners were carrying out infection control under the retired guidelines and where this continues to be up-to date, evidence-based, safe, and appropriate for a given practice setting, that there would be no need for a dental practitioner to change their infection prevention and control processes.
The Board’s self-reflective tool provides the following framework for practitioners:
- reflect on your practice and consider the questions and statements in the document
- make notes against the question or statement (where applicable)
- identify gaps in your knowledge, skills, systems, and protocols
- make an improvement plan
The self-reflective tool covers a wide range of components of infection prevention and control, including considerations around single-use medical devices, aseptic technique, management of sharp injuries, waste management, practitioner immunisation, and continuing professional development.
As we know, the ramifications of poor infection prevention and control can include the transmission of serious disease from procedures such as all-on-4 dental implants, crowns, or fillings. The Board has encouraged dental practitioners to seek advice from government health departments, statutory entities, professional associations, insurers, or private consultants to ensure access to advice specific to a particular professional setting.