A message from the OSAP Board of Directors about practicing safely, even 3,000 miles away from home.
Lucy Abbott, RDH offered to process instruments the day the dental assistant called in sick. The two were friends and colleagues and had covered for each other before. At the end of the day, Lucy was exhausted and decided to speed things up by grabbing the last tray of dirty instruments without putting on utility gloves, then took them to the processing area without the use of a transport container. As she rushed out of the operatory, Lucy tripped and the instruments flew everywhere. An explorer poked her in the leg, and she cut her thumb with a scalpel when she picked up the dropped instruments. She was horrified by the wounds because she knew the instruments had been used on a patient with a confirmed case of hepatitis C (HCV).
Her employer dentist didn’t have a post-exposure management plan and wasn’t sure what to do. He suggested she go to the emergency room where she waited for over four hours. She was finally attended by a doctor who, unfortunately, was unfamiliar with the dental environment. He advised her that there was no post-exposure treatment available, but that they could take a baseline test for HCV, as well as hepatitis B and HIV.
Lucy got home at midnight - tired, dispirited, frightened, and $300 poorer.
In another part of the United States, a hygienist named Nancy Reynolds signed up for a mission trip to a remote island in the Caribbean. She was excited to be able to contribute her skills to people who could really benefit from good oral care. Unfortunately, when she arrived at her destination, Nancy realized that the team was ill-prepared for the infection control challenges in areas where electricity can be spotty and their supplies were insufficient for the lines of people who arrived for care.
A unique dental organization could have helped Lucy avoid the pain, fear, and threat of disease, and Nancy be prepared and well-equipped to meet the infection control challenges in resource-deprived areas. The Organization for Safety & Asepsis Procedures (OSAP) is an egalitarian nonprofit association that welcomes hygienists, dental assistants, dentists, educators, consultants, and even companies to work together on its vision of safe dental care for people everywhere.
OSAP has information and education on establishing a post-exposure management program, which would include selecting a qualified healthcare professional. Lucy certainly could have benefited from this. OSAP also has a free downloadable Guide for Safety and Infection Control for Oral Healthcare Missions (http://www.osap.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=15) that Nancy could have used to prepare for a successful mission trip.
OSAP is the go-to source for knowledge regarding infection control and safety information and education with chemical charts, focused resources on key infection control issues and education. Hygienists and other dental health-care workers can obtain extensive information on infection prevention and occupational safety and health for free at www.OSAP.org. Hygienists who seek more guidance, answers to infection control challenges, and access to a national network of infection control peers can join OSAP as a member.
This issue of RDH contains several articles written by OSAP members about the organization, safety, disease transmission, and resources to help improve the effectiveness of infection control education. These articles were inspired by the organization’s June symposium, which is designed to provide cutting-edge information to dental educators and trainers, many of whom are practicing hygienists.
OSAP gives free access to much of its resources. However, the organization would like to contribute far more to the safety of dentistry by launching a certification program to help ensure consistency in infection control training. OSAP also wants to provide scholarships and targeted educational programs to those who need it the most. It wants to develop new programs to help dental practices with the day-to-day challenge of compliance - like its popular “If Saliva Were Red” video program.
In order to develop these important new programs and tools, OSAP would like to enlist the help of dental hygienists as well as other clinicians. Last spring, the organization launched an ambitious campaign to raise $1 million to help improve the safety of over 1 million people globally. The campaign hit its first major milestone at its June symposium’s charity auction. Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of donors and bidders, OSAP raised $100,000 in one evening to move the campaign closer to reality.
Hitting 10 percent of the goal in one night was a great start, but there is much more to be done.
OSAP would like to encourage every dental hygienist to donate $1, $5 ... or whatever is appropriate to its 1 Million Lives Safer campaign. Like the March of Dimes campaign, a little donated by a lot can make an enormous difference. Please consider giving today by visiting the website, calling OSAP on its toll-free number at (800) 298-OSAP (6727) or sending a contribution of any size to its office at P.O. Box 6297, Annapolis, MD 21401. OSAP will list each donor on its Web site’s campaign honor roll. And, OSAP will keep every donor informed of its progress in improving the safety in dental health-care settings worldwide.
OSAP is dentistry’s resource for infection control and safety. Let it be your resource starting today. Visit the Web site, download information, join the organization, and donate. Band together with OSAP to make a difference in your safety and the safety of dental clinicians and patients everywhere. OSAP
- The OSAP Board of Directors