The Role of the ICPC
OVERVIEW | ICPC | RESOURCES | ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
The Infection Control and Prevention Program
Every office needs an Infection Control and Prevention Program – the system of policies, procedures and practices that minimize the risk of transmission of microorganisms and disease, when properly implemented. The overall goal is patient and personnel safety. Important elements in achieving this include: guidelines, standards and regulations; professional standards and best practices; ethics; and standard operating procedures (SOPs).
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The Infection Control/Prevention Coordinator
An Infection Control/Prevention Coordinator (ICPC) is also needed in every office – he/she has overall responsibility for managing and coordinating the Infection Control and Prevention Program. Specific roles include but are not limited to the following:
- Lead in policy development, implementation and monitoring and review and update written policies, SOPs, procedures and other documents
- Use credible sources (e.g., CDC, OSHA, EPA), assess expected outcomes
- Maintain relevant regulatory and guidance documents and make sure these are available to all personnel (e.g., Bloodborne Pathogens Standard; Personal Protective Equipment (general requirements))
- Maintain current related permits, licenses and other documents (e.g., training, sterilization, medical and other records and logs)
- Generate/update/maintain logs of (other) safety-related records (e.g., manifests from medical waste haulers, radiographic equipment certifications)
- Act as a resource on infection control/prevention for the team or organization
- Provide infection control (and OSHA-mandated) training and education
- Monitor compliance by observation, sterilization logs, checklists, other methods
- Confirm employee immunizations are current, supplies/equipment ordering systems are in place.
The ICPC should be a leader and role model. OSAP has developed resources that help define this position:
- The Case for Designating a Dental Safety Coordinator
- Defining the Role of the Infection Control Coordinator Part 1
- Defining the Role of the Infection Control Coordinator Part 2
- Infection Control Coordinators: Roles, Resources and Responsibilities (PPT from OSAP 2015 Symposium)
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The ICPC must be knowledgeable or willing to be trained to take on these responsibilities. At a minimum, requirements include a basic understanding of microbiology, modes of transmission, infection prevention and safety procedures, related governmental regulations and recommendations; and products and equipment available to maintain patient and provider safety.
He/she must have access to resources in able to perform his/her duties. These resources include:
- Workshops and seminars (including OSAP's Dental Infection Control Boot Camp and Annual Conference)
- Membership in relevant organizations like OSAP
- Networking with other infection control professionals
Monitoring of performance and compliance with the Infection Control Program can be accomplished using checklists that are based on the office, written policies and SOPs.
Checklists should be used for repeatable, recurring processes (e.g., instrument processing); process groups (e.g., dental unit waterline treatment); and audit checklists (e.g., BI monitoring, hand hygiene, use of PPE). An overview of charts and checklists can be found by clicking HERE. As well as on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Checklists are especially helpful for complex procedures. Using checklists reminds individuals of critical steps to complete each time, helps ensure that each step is performed, provides a record that the proper procedure and all steps are completed, and serves and documentation to investigate adverse events should these occur.
Checklists can also be used when observing infection control practices to ensure all required precautions are taken (e.g., use of appropriate PPE and equipment barriers). The results of the checklists and monitoring should be used to identify areas that need improvement, with a focus on process improvement rather than assigning blame to individuals. State Boards also use audit checklists for compliance with the procedures involved in infection control and prevention, and may be available online from your State Board.
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Additional Tool Kit Resources
The information above is a resource prepared by the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) with the assistance and expertise of its members. OSAP is a nonprofit, independent organization providing information and education on infection control and prevention and patient and provider safety to dental care settings worldwide. This resource is an overview with links to more detailed information. Additional relevant information is available on CDC, OSHA, EPA, OSAP and other websites. Content provided is current at time of publication. OSAP assumes no liability for actions taken based on information herein.