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The Infection Control Coordinator's Key Role in Dental Safety

Michelle Strange, DA, RDH, audits sterile storage in the dental setting
Michelle Strange, Infection Control Coordinator, explains how vital her role is in patient safety

As caregivers, ensuring the safety of our patients is one of our primary duties, especially while they are under our care. In the ever-evolving landscape of post-pandemic healthcare, one role has emerged as the unsung hero of ongoing dental safety — the Infection Control Coordinator (ICC). Think of them as Guardians of the Dental Galaxy, diligently ensuring your clinic stays ahead in the infection control game.

Why Infection Control Matters

In the grand scheme of things, infection prevention isn't just another checkbox on your dental office to-do list; it's the bedrock on which your services and operations should stand. Everything from proper handwashing and instrument sterilization to staff training and ensuring clean water comes from the waterlines should adhere to infection control guidelines. 

Underestimating the importance of infection prevention is like playing with fire; Outbreaks, equipment malfunctions, clinic closures, and reputation damage are all very real consequences. But I hear ya — how do you juggle the chaos of running a busy clinic while also keeping up with the latest hygiene standards?

Enter Infection Control Coordinator

Ensuring your dental office has all necessary infection control measures in place is not a small task. Plus, continuous monitoring of these processes is a must to confirm that they are working and that everyone is following them. The good news is that you don’t need to do it alone. You can appoint an Infection Control Coordinator (ICC) from your dental squad. 

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has supported the role of the ICC since 2003. An infection prevention coordinator can help lessen your workload and, more importantly, maintain a safe work environment for everyone. They're not just a title; they're your partner in the everyday battle against infections. 

Infection Control Coordinator responsibilities

I often call Infection Control Coordinators the unsung heroes of dental safety. Why? Just have a look at all the crucial responsibilities that come with the role:

1. Develop & Implement Protocols

Your ICC is the architect of infection control in your clinic. They develop and implement safety protocols following the latest industry standards, ensuring your daily operations run smoothly and according to regulatory requirements.

2. Ensure CDC & OSHA Compliance

The ICC ensures that your office meets and exceeds the compliance standards set by the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While the CDC focuses on broad public health guidelines, the OSHA regulations specifically hone in on workplace safety, tailoring standards to protect employees. The ICC plays a crucial role in harmonizing the two within the dental setting, ensuring your clinic is a paragon of health and safety for both patients and staff. 

3. Maintain Consistency

Having a system is one thing; making sure that everyone dances to the same beat is another. Your ICC takes charge of ensuring that all staff members adhere to the practice’s infection control guidelines at all times — from wearing the right gear to following protocols.


4. Continuous Education & Training

The ICC's focus and ongoing task is staying on top of the latest infection control standards. They educate and train your team, keeping everyone updated on the latest infection prevention guidelines. This is vital for keeping all staff informed and proficient in maintaining a high standard of safety and hygiene.

5. Equipment Maintenance

Ensuring that all equipment in the dental office is in good working condition is another aspect of infection control. From performing proper sterilization and calibration to regular upkeep, your ICC ensures your dental tools stay in tip-top shape, thus preventing cross-contamination and costly malfunctions. It's not just about safety; it's also about making the most out of your dental equipment, saving costs, and avoiding unplanned downtime.

6. Resource Management

From personnel protective equipment (PPE) to disinfectants, the ICC is responsible for the availability and proper allocation of resources. This includes providing safety disposal instructions for potentially infectious materials such as used gloves, masks, and face shields. No shortages, no oversights — just a smooth operation with all the necessary tools at your fingertips.

7. Managing Reusable Items

Reusable items need to undergo proper decontamination techniques before they’re safe to use on the next patient. Your ICC creates customized SOPs and trains your team on the right way to handle reusable items — including devices such as autoclaves and items like instrument bags — ensuring every patient gets a safe experience.

8. Correct Disinfection & Sterilization

Between patients, your ICC ensures the clinic is a germ-free zone to prevent any risk of cross-contamination. They take charge of identifying the appropriate disinfectant type and strength for each surface, ensuring thorough sanitation throughout the clinic. They’re also responsible for sterilizing patient care items and ensuring that the cleaning devices are well-maintained, clean, and performing optimally. 

9. Emergency Preparedness

Health crisis or outbreak? No panic — your ICC has a carefully developed and ready-to-be-executed emergency plan to protect both your patients and staff. This way, you’re ready to tackle any problem head-on with a swift and organized response.

Appoint an Infection Control Coordinator for stress-free solutions 

By appointing a reliable Infection Control Coordinator, you no longer need to worry about the levels of hygiene and safety in your dental office. While everyone's going about their day-to-day treating patients, the ICC goes that extra mile to ensure everything is running smoothly and according to protocol. They hold the infection prevention front while also acting as a source of knowledge whenever uncertainties arise in the clinic.

And no need to break the bank hiring new qualified staff, either; Simply empower an existing team member with my 

Already have an ICC? Help them level up with my 

Get your blueprint for building a robust Infection Control and Prevention program at your practice and start the new year with compliance. 

Fast-track your efforts, appoint an ICC today, and your patients and staff will thank you for your commitment to safety!

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