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Office Design & Management Archived Through 2012
 FAQ - Office Design & Management - Archived Through 2012



What is the best type of barriers for laptops in the dental operatory?

The same barriers used to cover the dental unit and equipment (e.g. operator's cart, dental assistant's cart, x-ray tube head, etc.) may be used to cover the computer. Barriers can be made of different materials but they must all be fluid proof. Plastic is currently the most widely used barrier.

Dental infection control experts recommend using barrier protection to cover equipment, especially sensitive equipment such as computer keyboards and difficult-to-clean surfaces. Reminder, barriers must be changed between patients and surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected should the barrier be compromised.

In addition, the computer/equipment manufacturer should be consulted prior to cleaning and disinfecting with chemical agents. The equipment warranty may be void if chemicals not approved by the manufacturer are used on their product.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Infection Control Guidelines for Dental Healthcare Settings (December 2003) states the following:

Barrier protection of surfaces and equipment can prevent contamination of clinical contact surfaces, but is particularly effective for those that are difficult to clean. Barriers include clear plastic wrap, bags, sheets, tubing, and plastic-backed paper or other materials impervious to moisture. Because such coverings can become contaminated, they should be removed and discarded between patients, while DHCP are still gloved. After removing the barrier, examine the surface to make sure it did not become soiled inadvertently. The surface needs to be cleaned and disinfected only if contamination is evident. Otherwise, after removing gloves and performing hand hygiene, DHCP should place clean barriers on these surfaces before the next patient.

Additional information concerning computer keyboards may be viewed at:

The North Carolina Statewide Program for Infection Control and Epidemiology (SPICE) provides information on disinfecting computer keyboards in their current monthly report. The information may be viewed at:

The Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association also provides information concerning computer keyboards at:


1) CDC's Infection Control Guidelines for Dental Healthcare Settings (December 2003):

What is the best type of barriers for laptops in the dental operatory?

It should also be noted that there may be State Public Health Regulations that prohibit the use of fans in patient treatment rooms, the dental operatory, or open bay clinics. Therefore, you should contact your State Public Health Department/Agency for possible public health regulations concerning this issue.

In addition, states that operate their own OSHA plan must enforce the Federal Standards but they can also exceed those Standards. Therefore, if the dental practice is located in a state with a state operated OSHA plan, contact the state OSHA office for guidance on this issue.

Links to OSHA state operated plans are available at:




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