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The regulatory regime for infection control in the dental profession has been through a great deal of change and dental practices are being bombarded with information from all directions. So it’s not surprising that there is still a considerable amount of confusion in many practices as to just what their obligations are.

The Health Act 2008 is not optional, it is the Law. Part 2 of the Code of Practice on the Prevention and Control of Infections is simply a set of criteria for Compliance with the Health Act 2008. What is optional is whether you implement these criteria via the guidelines laid down in HTM 01-05 or through another method – provided that you can prove that the other method is just as effective. If you are unable to do so, then you should implement HTM 01-05.

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Criteria for infection control

Have the right systems in place to manage and monitor the prevention and control of infection, ie conduct risk assessments and ensure you have robust procedures and that they are documented.

Provide a clean and appropriate environment, ie one that conforms to essential requirements and that instrument decontamination takes place in appropriate facilities.

Ensure that all staff are fully involved in the prevention and control of infection, ie conduct, maintain and document adequate training.

Have and adhere to policies that will help to prevent and control infections, ie have in place a policy for the decontamination of instruments in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions and Essential Requirements so that the instrument is sterilized at the end of the process and maintained in a clinically satisfactory condition up to the point of use.

Ensure that workers are free of, and protected from, exposure to infections, ie make sure your decontamination process is as hands free as possible and that staff are educated in the principles and practice of prevention and control of infection

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