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Occupational safety among dental health-care workers

Authors Shimoji S, Ishihama K, Yamada H, Okayama M, Yasuda K, Shibutani T, Ogasawara T, Miyazawa H, Furusawa K

Published 11 October 2010 Volume 2010:1 Pages 41—47


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Shigehiro Shimoji1, Kohji Ishihama1,2, Hidefumi Yamada1, Masaki Okayama1, Kouichi Yasuda1,3, Tohru Shibutani3,4, Tadashi Ogasawara2,5, Hiroo Miyazawa2,3, Kiyofumi Furusawa1
1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Matsumoto Dental University, Shiojiri, Japan; 2Infection Control Team, 3Risk Management Working Team, Matsumoto Dental University Hospital, Shiojiri, Japan; 4Department of Dental Anesthesiology, 5Department of Special Care Dentistry, Matsumoto Dental University, Shiojiri, Japan

Abstract: Compared to other health-care workers, dental health-care workers come in close contact with patients and use a variety of sharp and high-speed rotating instruments. It is important to understand the characteristics of the occupational accidents that occur. We reviewed incident reports from April 1, 2005, to March 31, 2010, at Matsumoto Dental University Hospital. In addition, questionnaires dealing with identification of occupational safety issues, especially splash exposures, were conducted for dentists, dental hygienists, and nurses. Thirty-two occupational injuries were reported during the study period, including 23 sharp instrument injuries (71.9%), 6 splash exposures (18.8%), and 3 others. Of the six splash exposures, only two cases involved potential contamination with blood or other potentially infectious patient material. Of the 66 workers who experienced sharps injuries, 20 workers (30.3%, 20/66) reported them to the hospital work safety team. The questionnaire revealed high incident of splash exposures and conjunctiva exposures: 87.9% (51/58) and 60.3% (35/58) in dentists and 88.6% (39/44) and 61.4% (27/44) in dental hygienists. The compliance rate for routine use of protective eyewear was 60.3% (35/58) for dentists and 34.1% (15/44) for hygienists. Of the presented informational items included in the questionnaire, those that strongly persuaded respondents to use protective eyewear were ‘splatters from the patient’s mouth contain blood’ (90%, 99/110) and ‘dental operations at our clinic are performed based only on a questionnaire without serious examinations for HBV, HCV, and HIV’ (71.8%, 79/110). The reason of low compliance of protective eyewear among dentists might relate to fine dental procedures. Appropriate information is important for the motive of wearing personal protective equipment, and an early educational program may have a potential to increase compliance with the use of that equipment.

Keywords: splash exposure, occupational safety, sharps injury, personal protective equipment

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