Who establishes infection control guidelines for the Dental Mission of Mercy projects across the United States? The protocol keeps changing. Is this coming from OSAP? OSHA? ADCF? Other? Thanks for your help – Kathryn
Great question, Kathryn! The Centers for Disease Control and prevention create guidelines for a variety of issues, including infection control in dentistry (last published in December 2003 and currently under review). These guidelines include recommendations based on scientific evidence, expert opinion and more. The introduction and narrative carefully explain the rationale for following the recommendations. These recommendations are in the guidance and are intended for all settings wherein oral healthcare services are provided. These guidelines should be followed by MOMs projects as well. In addition, for more specific guidance on mobile settings go to OSAP.org and you will find a link to their guidelines for mobile settings. OSHA is a regulatory agency charged with protecting the health and well being of every working person in the US, including healthcare workers. The 1993 OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and the subsequent update known as the Needlestick Safety Act provides obligations to employers to protect their employees. As a volunteer or student you are not an employee. That being said, these regulations tell you what actions to take to protect yourself from exposures, decrease your risk of an exposure and medical follow up should an exposure incident occur. All of these should be reviewed. In addition, I would expect any volunteer program, such as MOMs, to have policies, practices and protocols in place designed to protect any volunteer. You should ask to see these and monitor their infection control practices.