Disinfection in health care settings, including dental practices, has become more crucial than at any time in living memory. But a shortage of approved, hospital-grade disinfectants poses ongoing challenges.
ADA Newsreported on November 9th that five dentists in Congress – Reps. Brian Babin, R-Texas; Mike Simpson, R-Idaho; Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; Drew Ferguson, R-Georgia; and Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J. – have written to the CDC asking for clarification about the use of surface disinfectants in dental practice settings.
The report notes that there is a current and potentially future shortage in hospital-grade surface disinfectants due to supply chain issues and increased demand. In their letter the Congressmen stated that “sales of aerosol disinfectants and of multipurpose cleaners are up 520% and 250%, respectively, according to the research film Nielsen.”
There is currently a lack of guidance for health care professionals regarding the use of surface disinfectants other than hospital-grade, but the EPA has granted emergency use permission for manufacturers to produce and market surface disinfectants without EPA approval. However, the lack of guidance about using the new disinfectants would seem to potentially create possible liability issues as well as patient and staff health risks.
The five Congressmen’s letter concludes, “We urge the CDC to develop guidance to help clinicians know what to do when surface disinfectants are not readily available. And we hope such guidance will address whether and how surface disinfectants that the EPA is allowing for temporary emergency use can be leveraged in health care settings.”
Let’s Not Lose The Public’s Confidence
The infection rate for dentists is 0.9 percent according to a recent study. That low infection rate is a strong incentive for dental patients to schedule appointments. However, it will take very few reports of dentists’ offices becoming “hotspots” to erode public confidence in the safety of receiving dental services.
This is particularly true as infection rates are rising sharply in almost every state as of this writing.
If your practice is having difficulties obtaining enough hospital-grade surface disinfectants, reach out to your state health department for interim guidance regarding the use of other disinfectants in the clinical setting.
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