A well-functioning dental practice relies on everything operating harmoniously and without incident. For example, computers work perfectly, all required equipment being in its correct place and in good working order. In addition, each member of staff is fully trained in their responsibilities as well as protocols and procedures are established and regularly reviewed.
Anticipating potential issues is the most robust defence against them happening in the first place. The reality is that all workplaces – and dental practices are no exception – are only ever likely to be one or two steps away from a problem of some type.
Knowing what to do when something goes wrong can help to avoid undesirable consequences. One-off incidents, such as a power cut, can cause costly and disruptive downtime. Multiple or repeated smaller-scale occurrences, such as low-level exposure to hazardous substances, can have an accumulated impact on team members’ wellbeing.
Preparation is key
Risk assessments are a crucial tool in identifying potential problems. Reviewing them regularly is essential in order to cater to changes in staff, activities, or equipment. Training for team members, whether health and safety-related or role-specific, contributes to the collective skills needed for the safe and efficient running of the practice.
Compliance must be up to date, such as safety certification of medical kits, fire extinguishers, gas and electricity installation, and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) risk assessments.
A rapid resolution in your dental practice
When problems do arise, establish key facts as soon as possible. What has happened? Is anyone in danger? Is anything damaged? Has first-response been activated? A problem must be recorded, verified, and reported in line with your practice protocol once managed.
Problem management: best practice
In the dental profession, the owner of the dental practice is accountable for health and safety compliance. Team members must play their part, though, in keeping the dental practice as safe as possible for each other and for patients. Transparency in processes minimises possible pitfalls in the working environment. Lines of authority should be known by everyone on the team: who to contact, how, and when.
Review and reflect
Once a problem has been resolved, review the incident. This helps to strengthen processes and identify where improvements can be made. Is there useful equipment that could be brought in to minimise the impact should such an incident occur again?
A specialist product such as the Mercury Spillage Kit from Initial Medical provides rapid recovery from potentially hazardous spills. The kit contains everything necessary to manage and dispose of regulated items such as mercury-based dental amalgam, getting the practice back up and running safely and quickly.
Reap the benefits of hindsight
Everyone is human and nobody is perfect. Technical failures can be beyond our control and mistakes and errors of judgement are made by the best of us. Take advantage of hindsight after an incident in your dental practice. You can mitigate the risk of future disruption – or worse still, damage – with the benefit of fresh experience and lessons learned.