TIPS November/December 2020 – Infection Control Safety Nets: How Responsive Are Yours?

Infection Control Safety Nets: How Responsive Are Yours? – TIPS November/December 2020

Sterilization Monitoring: An Important Quality Insurance Process – Pages 20-23




In all that has happened this year with the pandemic and its profound impact on just about every aspect of our lives and livelihoods, the focus has never been more intense on patient and staff safety through rigorous infection prevention and control. But what happens when those measures fail for some reason? Most offices have a plan for routine testing and verification of infection control procedures and technologies. But, are they adequate to detect small problems early enough to prevent small issues from becoming much bigger ones? Here are a couple of scenarios to consider.

Yes, you have a system that yields clean waterlines and by using an appropriate process of regular maintenance, whether with tablets, straws, etc., you minimize the opportunity for something to go wrong. But what happens if there is an unintentional lapse of regular maintenance? How do you catch this early, before the impact manifests in reports of infections from your patients?

You have a reliable sterilizer, use indicator pouches/strips, and have implemented strong protocols to assure instruments are properly cleaned and sterilized between uses. But what happens if the indicators are not looked at carefully, or the temperature, pressure, or time, was just a little bit off due to a malfunction. Does your testing and verification process for the sterilizer include all three types of sterilizer monitoring: mechanical, chemical, and biological?1-3 Is your sterilizer monitoring approach responsive enough to catch a problem quickly, before you are forced to reach out to all the patients who could have possibly been impacted since the last time the sterilizer passed the test?

Obviously, the faster you can detect and correct such problems, the better it is for all concerned. This is where new, more economical in-office testing technologies can be a real benefit. Instead of sending out spore strips or water samples for analysis at an off-site lab, which requires mail-in, testing, and reporting time, you can keep this within your office and get results much more quickly than before, and at a very reasonable price.

Your Burkhart Account Manager can help review your Infection Prevention and Control processes and safety nets. They can help determine the best way to implement more responsive technologies in your practice that offer better protection for those rare occasions when something goes wrong and the need for early detection and correction is essential to protecting your patients and reputation.


Bill Sundheimer Signature
Bill Sundheimer
Director of Merchandise


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings” — 2003. MMWR 2003;52(No. RR-17); 24-25.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings: Basic Expectations for Safe Care”. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Oral Health, March 2016.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities” (2008); last updated: May 2019. Accessed May 13, 2020.

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