“Which contact time do we follow for our disinfectant – there are three times listed?”
“How do I get our students to comply with PPE?”
“Do I have to wear my gloves? My hands get sweaty!”
I could fill tomes with the questions I’ve received and the scenarios I’ve encountered as a consultant − like the dental office that just sprays their hygiene instruments with disinfectant instead of sterilizing between patients, or the team member that is “issued” only three disinfecting wipes per day by the office manager! I’m sure together we could amass enough stories to fill encyclopedias. In an industry where the terms “safety and compliance” are common vernacular, we all want to be on top of our game and ensure we are communicating the latest supported information to those who rely on us to do so.
This is where the OSAP Annual Symposium comes in. In addition to the wonderful resources on their website (like “Ask OSAP,” where all your burning questions are answered online), the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention annual session has been a life preserver when I felt overwhelmed by a sea of regulatory matters, am asked how to enhance a culture of safety in an organization, or when I need to know what is coming on the horizon in the way of guidelines that shape the world of infection prevention for dental offices.
I’ve learned to arrive at the session armed with a list of my most pressing problems because I know I will get the answers by the end of the conference. I find that most often they are addressed during one of the many informative presentations, or, I can always speak to the experts directly at one of the numerous sessions designed to enhance networking. Just think, how often does one have an opportunity to meet the authors who drafted the original CDC Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings, along with other great experts in the field? In addition, I’ve established invaluable connections that are just an email away if I need help recovering from a panic attack, like the time I was informed by a dentist in Ohio, “My staff just told me they haven’t tested the sterilizer in months and it just failed – now what?”
My reasons for attending this symposium are plentiful. Not only are the people I meet friendly and approachable, but I always walk away with a wealth of information − and that makes me look pretty good to the bosses (yay − job security!). Namely, I attend to:
- Learn about key issues in the industry as a whole, and know ahead of time what the changing landscape might look like as presented by the experts in the field;
- Gain from the experiences of others who face challenges similar to mine; and
- Solidify partnerships with colleagues who remind me that “This too shall pass” – like when I visit an office that is reusing disposable items (“Did you just say you wash your gloves between patients?!”
This year I am looking forward to hearing all about where the CDC is in their updates for infection control guidelines for the dental professional, to learn about the latest in sterilization and disinfection, and to take back information on the newest products in infection control and safety. Of course, I plan on arriving with my usual list of questions and know I will come back with a wealth of resources.