Patient Safety Awareness Week
This week is Patient Safety Awareness week, where medical and dental professionals take the opportunity to recognize the importance of quality care and patient safety. At the Advanced Dental Center in Florence, SC, we make sure to put our patients first.
Between 2010-2015, an estimated 1,000 patients have died as a result of dental procedures. And for every patient that died, about 6 more went to the hospital and survived. This may come as a shock, because no one expects to wind up in the hospital when visiting the dentist for a simple cleaning. At our Florence dental practice, we believe that there is no excuse for patient illness and injury.
In observation of Patient Safety Awareness week, we’re here today to discuss the ways in which we prioritize the welfare of every one of our patients.
What Is Patient Safety?
When we talk about patient safety, we’re really thinking about the ways in which hospitals, doctor’s offices and dental practices protect their patients from injuries, accidents and infections.
There are a number of problems that can arise as a result of careless or improper practice, which on the surface is not extremely surprising. The high-speed dental handpiece or drill has a diamond-coated bit that rotates at nearly 400,000 revolutions per minute, all while working centimeters from your tongue and throat.
Sodium hypochlorite is the bleach that is most frequently used during root canal treatment. This is highly toxic to the body’s cells. When operating so close to the airway, it’s important to think about how even the smallest mistake can cause harm to the patient.
How Safe Am I In The Dentist’s Chair?
We aren’t trying to scare you, and we certainly aren’t trying to steer you away from the dentist’s office, but it’s highly important to think about your safety when choosing a dental care provider. At the Advanced Dental Center of Florence, your health is our top priority. We take steps to guarantee that every one of our patients is safe in our hands.
When choosing a dentist, make sure that their practice is clean.
Sterilization: Ask your dentist or hygienist about their sterilization procedures. Specifically, ask if they’re up to date with OSHA and CDC guidelines. This protocol is in place to ensure that equipment and products are free from bacteria.
Cross contamination: If you see your dentist or hygienist touch a chart or a drawer with gloves on, or don’t change them after handling unsterilized equipment, stop! Ask them about their hygiene practices and what measures they take to keep from cross contamination.
Dust: Look for dusty shelves and surfaces while in the office. Dust carries bacterial and aerosol particles with it. If you see a dusty surface, let your hygienist or dentist know.
If you have allergies to certain materials or chemicals, let your dental staff know. Mant items in your dentist’s office can irritate allergies, the most common including:
Latex: Most dentists and hygienists use latex gloves when performing surgeries, cleanings and other examinations. But many patients are allergic to the proteins in latex and can break out in minor skin irritations, hives or even anaphylactic shock.
Lidocaine: Dentists often use lidocaine as a local anesthetic, causing temporary numbness in the skin and mucous membranes. Some patients, however, experience nausea, dizziness, and swelling. More serious complications include mood changes, tremors or vision changes.
Penicillin and Amoxicillin: We often prescribe antibiotics after dental surgery to keep infections at bay. But about 7-10% of the population have an allergy to certain antibiotics, which can result in hives, rashes or even anaphylaxis.
Understanding your rights as a patient is crucial. The federal government designed Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, to provide patients with access to their medical records and the right to determine how these are disclosed.
An important aspect of the HIPAA is the way in which it grants you the right to determine who can speak on your behalf. This includes people who can help you with your insurance or your consent for procedures. You can have as many designees as you please. If you would like a spouse, parent or child to be allowed to make decisions, you have a right to include them all.
HIPAA also grants you the right to obtain a copy of your medical records at any time you request them. This allows you to switch healthcare providers, insurance companies or apply for surgical procedures with ease.
Check to ensure that your dental practice is HIPAA compliant, as you as a patient are entitled to exercise important rights over your privacy and disclosure.
You deserve to have a qualified dental care team. Check out your dentist’s education, accreditation and memberships to ensure that they’re licensed and trained to practice dentistry.
Make sure that your dentist went to an accredited dental school and find out which organizations they participate in. Ask them whether or not they attend continuing education courses to stay up to date with current research and technology. If they don’t, consider switching dentists. You don’t want to end up in the hands of an unqualified team!
Advanced Dental Center: Where Patient Safety Is #1
While March 12-18 is Patient Safety Awareness week, our Florence, SC dental practice prioritizes patient safety year round. Our talented staff regularly attends continuing educational courses. Each member of our team has 200-400 times more than the required amount of training. Make an appointment with our office today to get care from a team that emphasizes your safety above everything else.