Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Give me the evidence, Barry!

Shaun colour

I wonder if I am the first non-dentist to speak out about HTM 01-05 that was imposed on the profession sometime ago; but to the chief dental officer, I really have got to ask: where is the evidence?

I’m not going to reference all the cited information that is out there, if you’re in the know you have already read it. But allow me to give you a little background to why I am on a soapbox!

I had an unusual day at work today and due to staff shortages (for one reason or another) I had to give a hand in our decon suite. The reason I’m writing this is because whilst at the sink in my disposable apron, thick rubber gloves, facemask and face shield, with my water in the sink validated as not being above 30°C at a level where I can immerse the instruments below the water level and scrub them with my long handled scrubbing brush, I thought to myself: ‘I wonder how many patients lives I have saved today because of my highly effective infection control techniques?’

This was just before I placed the instruments into the ultrasonic bath and then had to remove my IPE before writing down that I had activated the ultrasonic bath, but then I had to don it all again so that I could open the next ‘contaminated’ box so that I could start again, oh, I nearly forgot because I had to take it all off again and wash my hands and then go and open one of the autoclaves because it had some instruments that one of the nurses needed in it.

I got them out and got my paper towel out to dry it and then went to get my IPE back on but then remembered that I had forgot to log the completion of the autoclave cycle!

OK, I hear some of you saying, perhaps we could have data loggers and this would be unnecessary but hey, we just spent a fortune on an extension to accommodate the decon room and the further investment may have broken us!

Furthermore, could we justify disposing of perfectly good autoclaves to replace them with new ones with printers? I’m not sure we could.

Barry, Bazza, Baz; I ask you, I implore you; please show me how many lives I have saved today?

I’m sure that three years ago when I used to scrub my instruments under running water, inspect them, autoclave them, place them back into a cupboard I never killed anyone. I was trying to convince myself today that the huge investment by the practice I work at was worth it.

Sorry Barry, I’m not convinced.

Oh for sure, the patients are very impressed when they look out of my surgery window and ask why I no longer have any view and I inform them proudly that the new bit of building they can see is our ‘decon suite’! ‘What’s that?’ they ask; oh the Department of Health insist on it for your increased safety and comfort, I tell them.

Most, if not all are very surprised by this as many have been coming to the practice for many many years and have never suffered yet.

I’m not for a moment suggesting we should have boiling vessels again, but perhaps a bit of common sense.

The new systems are not time or cost effective. There seems to have been no environmental impact assessment carried out and the cost to practice’s in financial terms is massive. I think I’ll stop here as this could go on for some time, but again Barry I ask you: WHERE’S THE EVIDENCE?

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