Statement on Infection Prevention and Control

June 30, 2017

Infection prevention and control in dentistry is vital for safe patient care. Dentists are extensively trained on infection prevention and our mandatory continuing education program makes the subject a priority.

Recent cases of dental offices being closed by Public Health are alarming partly because they are very rare.  In every case, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) is committed to working with local public health units, Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care to help protect the public.

All dentists in Ontario are required to follow our Guidelines on Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC). Our Guidelines are robust and we are currently working to improve and update them with input from other health care partners.

The Guidelines are clear about our expectations:

“Dentists have an obligation to maintain the standards of practice of the profession and, accordingly, must ensure that recommended infection prevention and control procedures are carried out in their offices. OHCWs [oral health care workers] must maintain current knowledge of infection prevention and control procedures, and apply and maintain them appropriately and consistently. To this end, it is the dentist’s responsibility to ensure that staff are adequately trained in infection prevention and control procedures, and that the necessary supplies and equipment are available, fully operational, up-to-date and routinely monitored for efficacy. In addition to professional obligations, dentists also have an ethical duty to maintain a safe and healthy office environment for both patients and staff, and to adhere to all rules and regulations related to the operation of a dental practice, including workplace health and safety and environmental protection.”

Those “professional obligations” include following public health guidelines as well as the recommendations of manufacturers of sterilization and other dental office equipment to ensure patient safety at all times.

The College recently contacted every one of our members to remind them of their infection control responsibilities.  We have also reached out to Public Health Ontario to discuss the arising concerns and to consider new approaches where appropriate.

As a result of information provided to us, the Registrar of the College has ordered a number of investigations. More information will be available when the investigations are complete.