No Gap Dental: Infection Prevention Restoration in Oral Health

Mrs Michelle Callard1

1Swslhdohs, Liverpool, Australia


A new Infection Prevention role in oral health with accreditation looming. Challenges soon became apparent and changes were required fast to meet Standard 3 within eight months. South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) Oral Health Service encompasses a wide geographical area, with nine dental clinics, varying in size from three to fifteen chairs.


The plan evolved after visiting the clinics, meeting with staff to observe practices and build rapport. Emerging from the gap analysis was the importance of reconvening the Infection Prevention Committee. Secondly, staff were emailed a survey to gauge their Infection Prevention and Control knowledge. Next was to remove cloth gowns and latex gloves.. Two types of gowns as well as the nitrile gloves were trialled at three of the bigger clinics  and were given to staff with a product evaluation form to complete. Other issues included sterilisation, four clinics sterilised on site and five used a hospital CSSD, cleaning, inconsistency with standardisation of practices and equipment. Regular and unscheduled clinic visits were conducted ensuring staff were on track.


Within six months fluid resistant gowns and nitrile gloves were used exclusively in all clinics. One clinic ceased sterilising, and outsourced, with another clinic considering this option. Policies, procedures and practices were reviewed and standardisation commenced. In June accreditation was achieved.


Communication, collaboration, staff engagement and confidence in the process, were all key to implementing enormous changes in infection prevention in the oral health service.


Michelle’s  infection prevention journey commenced almost forty years ago when as a graduate nurse she moved to Darwin and soon after transferred to Communicable diseases , leprosy and TB control at the Darwin Hospital. After completing the Mayfield Certificate she furthered her experience in infection prevention and control throughout Queensland, NSW and the Northern Territory. She recently commenced in a newly created position in oral health in South Western Sydney, where many challenges were encountered, not least of all accreditation. Today she will explore some of those challenges and the strategies that were implemented to deal with them and the preparation for and meeting Standard 3 was achieved.


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