Modern dental cabinet office

The Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit, in Ontario, Canada, is asking all patients of a dental clinic in the area to be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. According to the agency, improper cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization of medical and dental instruments in the clinic may cause the spread of infectious diseases such as these.

Although the clinic is defending its cleaning and sterilization practices, reporting that their sterilization procedures meet or exceed those required by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, the district health unit remains focused on the fact that two patients receiving dental services at this clinic did contract hepatitis C.

Because of this incident, dental clinics in many parts of Canada are now calling in “surface assessment” experts such as OptiSolve to evaluate both the strengths and weaknesses of the cleaning provided in their facilities and, most especially, indicate where improvements can be made.

For example, according to Brad Evans with OptiSolve, the following areas were evaluated in in one Canadian dental clinic:
• Patient exam rooms
• Areas such as ceiling vents and drains in treatment rooms, often overlooked in the cleaning process
• Computers, keyboards and screens used in treatment rooms
• Staff common areas
• Washrooms

To conduct the assessment, the OptiSolve technician used their proprietary imaging technology, Pathfinder. This technology is designed to reveal microbial contamination and indicate precisely where potentially harmful contamination exists in the clinic.

“Our Pathfinder imaging technology makes the invisible visible by uncovering what’s happening on a variety of surfaces in the clinic,” says Evans. “This technology facilitates a proactive approach to infection prevention and helps determine if the money being invested in cleaning is delivering on the goal of keeping facilities clean and healthy.”

Evans notes that in this Canadian dental clinic, the team uncovered the following concerns:

Patient Exam Room – Numerous areas were assessed, finding contamination amounts varied throughout the room.

Refrigerator Door Handle - Only small amounts of contamination were found on the refrigerator door handle.

Ceiling Vents and HVAC Systems - High levels of contamination were indicated. The clinic did not know when these areas were last cleaned.

Staff Room - High contamination readings were indicated on several high touch surfaces in the staff room.

On-site Cleaning Equipment - The OptiSolve assessment indicated a high potential for cross-contamination during cleaning activities because the cleaning tools and equipment (mops, brooms, and other cleaning tools) were not properly stored, cleaned, or maintained.

Washroom - Moderate levels of contamination were found in varies areas of the restrooms, including the drains.

According to Evans, the Optisolve technicians pointed out these and other items of concern in the clinic that required action. To their credit, the Clinic started following-up on the recommendations immediately.

“No healthcare facility can ‘wonder’ if harmful pathogens are present,” says the dentist who owns this clinic. “We need to know if they are present and where to focus our [cleaning] efforts so we can reduce potential health and safety risks.