Put patient safety first with eye protection

Dental clinicians and staff wear eye protection because it’s a requirement to keep them safe while at work. So why not offer the same protection to patients? Imagine this scenario:

One of your patients comes in for a root canal, and as the dentist is going to numb the patient, he passes the syringe over the patient’s face. The syringe isn’t capped. As if in slow motion, the needle falls from the dentist’s hand and falls right into the patient’s eye.

This incident could have easily been prevented with protective eyewear. And unfortunately, this incident is also true. Jennifer Kushwara Morrone was that patient. Ultimately, she lost vision in the eye and has been quoted as saying, “I feel like half of my world was taken away.” Now, she’s an advocate for patient eye protection during dental visits. None of us want this experience for patients, so let’s go back to my original question: why not provide eye protection to patients during every visit? Let’s take a second to think of some opportunities for something to get into a patient’s eye:

• Dropped or mishandled instrument or syringe
• Splattering from prophy paste, amalgam or sealant
• Etch spray, caused by a clogged tip
• Flavoring from floss or toothpaste is transferred from hand to eye
• Chemical splatter from composite filling
• Calculus from scaling teeth

Patient safety

First and foremost, patient and team member safety should be a priority for everyone in the dental office. We saw through Jenn’s experience above that eye injuries in the dental office can be devastating to patients. It can cause trauma, stress, financial burden, and in this case, permanent blindness. Put their safety first.

Protect your practice

Lawsuits can be a costly and exhausting process for any business to have to go through, and if during a visit something, be it a falling syringe or splattering prophy paste, falls into the patient’s eye and causes any harm, it’s very likely that a lawsuit will ensue. However, this is preventable by having patients wear eye protection.

If your patients aren’t in the habit of wearing protective eyewear during appointments, it may take some explanation as to why you’re making the choice to start. Make sure they know how important their safety is to you and everyone in the practice. And for those patients who may be a little self-conscious about what the safety glasses look like, try making it fun with cool patterns or bright colors.