Portable Equipment Design and Transportation
f. What are the supply storage, infection control, and safety considerations?

Supplies

Special attention should be placed on appropriately maintaining the viability of dental supplies and materials that might be subject to wide temperature swings. This is often the case when materials are left in cars or trailers during the hot summer months or colder winter months. When transporting heat-sensitive dental materials during hot weather, take special cooling precautions and remove them from the vehicle when you arrive at a destination. Storage of materials is recommended in areas that have temperatures that do not exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit such as in homes, offices, or garages that are well insulated. X-ray film and certain tooth restorative materials may be best stored in a refrigerator used only for that purpose.

Portable autoclaves with a hard-sided carrying case are useful if seeing numerous patients or if the facility does not have sterilization equipment. This decreases the number of instruments and supplies that must be transported. Otherwise, sterilization can be performed at the end of the day at home base.

Storage Area for Sterilized Items and Clean Dental Supplies

Infection Control

Whether infection control practices are performed on-site, at an office, or even in a home setting, the disinfection, sterilization, and storage of patient care items should follow endorsed protocols.

Dental infection control recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) apply to all settings where dental services are provided, including those that use portable dental equipment or mobile van systems. Such settings often present challenges in implementing these guidelines. The Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) formed a national advisory group to develop tools for a practical community site assessment and infection control and safety checklists. These checklists offer practical infection control procedures for use during oral health surveys, screenings, preventive care and treatment regardless of setting. These procedures are based on general principles of infection control and are determined by the provider's level of anticipated contact with the patient's oral mucous membranes, blood or saliva contaminated with blood.

Using these tools will allow programs to determine what factors present challenges to providing safe, quality care and to make decisions about possible adaptations or the need to select another site to provide services. Forms are formatted to answer specific questions about the site, personnel and procedures. Answers to the questions on the forms should be analyzed in terms of the level of services to be provided and any special circumstances related to the site or the patient population. Space is provided on the forms to suggest Action Steps and to Summarize Findings and Decisions to create an Action Plan to overcome any identified challenges. The forms can be accessed on the OSAP website.

Resource

Infection Control Checklist for Dental Settings Using Mobile Vans or Portable Equipment

Includes a Site Assessment and On-Site Checklist.

The Site Assessment is best used when considering a new site to deliver services, although existing sites should also be assessed to determine possible problems that have been overlooked or have not yet been addressed. For mobile vans, questions would relate to both the van and the site where it is parked. The Infection Control Checklist is organized around the level of anticipated contact with mucous membranes, blood or saliva contaminated with blood, and the four basic principles of minimizing transmission of bloodborne and infectious diseases:

1. Take action to stay healthy

2. Avoid contact with blood and other potentially infectious body substances

3. Make patient care items (instruments, devices, equipment) safe for use

4. Limit the spread of blood and other infectious body substances

Additional references and resources are also available on the OSAP website.