| Journal of the Arizona Dental Association, June-July 2013
Occupational Safety & Health Administration
In September 1991, I started my collabo-
ration with the Arizona Dental Association to pro-
vide information to its members regarding the new
OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen law that was to take
effect in June 1992. The final rule was not published
until December 1991, but there was wide-spread
panic among the medical and dental communities.
There were rumors of how tough it was going to be
to adhere to the new standard, and hospital adminis-
trations looked to their infection control and safety
departments for guidance. For Arizona dentists
there were out-of-state speakers available on the sub-
ject, and we did have someone speak to us from Cali-
fornia. As California has their own OSHA program,
Cal/OSHA that was known for stricter laws than the
federal government, AzDA then turned to Arizona
residents for help.
Dr. Milton E. Schaefer, a retired dentist, living in Sun
City, and I, members of the Organization for Safety,
Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP), a dental infection
control association, were tapped to provide informa-
tion on bloodborne pathogens. Soon Dr. Schaefer, a
pioneer in dental infection control, found a new inter-
est in Habitat for Humanity, and I soldiered on alone.
In the early days after the passage of the Bloodborne
Pathogen law, there was a lot of interest from the
dentists as to how to deal with it. Some avoided the
law by not hiring employees or not being part of a
corporation as an employee, so they did not have to
follow the law. Other “wet fingered” dentists retired.
BODEX and the CDC.
After the basics of the
OSHA law were understood, the importance of it
seemed to greatly diminish. That all changed in 1994
when the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners
(BODEX) announced adoption of the most cur-
rent State OSHA required procedures for worker
protection and the most current Centers for Disease
Control recommended Infection Control Practices
for Dentistry as the guidelines for infection control.
BODEX then initiated Infectious Disease Control
Inspections. In addition, Infectious Diseases and
Infectious disease control continuing education was
mandated for license renewal.
Until this announcement, few Arizona dentists in
private practice were even aware of the CDC den-
tal guidelines published in 1986 and 1993. I was
encouraged, as these guidelines formed the basic
structure for dental infection control. So the shift
to Infection Control Principles from OSHA law was
made to inform AzDA membership and provide
access to the required continuing education credits.
Again, when this was done, there were some dentists
who were not very agreeable to the circumstances. I
had dentists sitting in the front row of my Infection
Control lectures defiantly reading the newspaper so
they could get their credits, but they sure did not
intend to listen to me. Thankfully, that has changed.
I even can coax a little laughter from the attendees
discussing what can be a terribly boring subject.
We have had an additional OSHA bloodborne law
and new interpretations of it. We also have had an
updated CDC guideline to follow, and a new edition
is expected this year. In the years since I first started,
the AzDA has added OSHA workshops and on-line
articles and tests as infection control educational of-
ferings for those needed hours of CE credit.
The recession
has dealt a major blow to the eco-
nomic health of dental practices. That seemed to
again decrease interest in Dental Infection Control.
Having managed my husband’s dental practice, I
can understand the situation that many of you are
in. However, my experience has been that if some
inexpensive procedures are ignored, things can turn
Infection PreventionCorner
After reading this article, the reader
should be able to:
Infection prevention corner
• identify Risk Management and Best Practices resources
readily available to the dental professional;
• describe the different classifications of dental patient
care items and how they should be processed for reuse;
• List the key areas of dental infection control that need
to be recognized and followed in order to provide a
safe environment for your patient.
High standards of profes-
sional practice protect the
patient, the employee,
and the practitioner.
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