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31 May 2015 | Auxiliary

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Updated standard for infection control

Handpieces Infection Control

The introduction of the updated Australian Standard AS4187:2014 and new terminology for reprocessing reusable medical devices (RMDs) such as handpieces, is a timely reminder for all practices to ensure they comply with the latest infection control guidelines.


The release of the updated 4187 Standard in December 2014 has implications for all HSOs (health service organisations) such as dental practices.

It is the obligation of each practice to obtain a copy of the standard, which is available from SAI Global. This change to the 4187 Standard - updated from 2003 - brings it in line with corresponding international standards, including the ISO15883 for washer disinfector units.

According to AS4187:2014, automated RMD cleaning units must use an effective cleaning agent to remove contaminants and the internal air and water passages of reusable medical devices (RMDs) must be properly cleaned by the process.

In addition, under ADA guidelines (2012), it is strongly recommended that automated "flush-through" devices are used for lubricating handpieces because of their lower dosing rates compared to pressurised spray lubricants applied by hand. This is because over-lubrication may impede effective steam sterilization.

Today, automatic handpiece units play a primary role in instrument reprocessing, but not all "cleaning" and lubricating units operate the same way, says W&H Territory Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Mr Chris Jobson.

Mr Jobson said proper cleaning was vital as dental handpieces, with their narrow transmission channels and angled internal chambers, placed increased requirements on thorough reprocessing. This is true of all turbine and contra-angle handpieces, which may be exposed to blood, saliva, secretions and tissue.

In addition, there are also technical contaminants such as particles resulting from abrasion and oil residues, as well as contaminants potentially contained in dental unit-supplied water (coolant) and compressed air supply lines.

"On the Australian market, there are some handpiece maintenance units that claim "cleaning & lubrication" yet do not offer evidence to support the outcome of the cleaning process which means, in effect, they only lubricate, which may make them unsuitable for adequate reprocessing of dental handpieces," he said.

"The new European designed W&H Assistina '3x3' was designed with W&H's mantra in mind - 'prove what you claim'. The internal and external cleaning process has been validated by an independent hygiene institute (The report is available online at wh.com). The Assistina meets the new standard with a validated cleaning process, while at the same time dramatically streamlining instrument reprocessing by being able to internally and externally clean and internally lubricate up to three instruments in just 6 ½ minutes - saving time and money."

In conjunction with the W&H Lisa Class B sterilizer, instruments can be completely cleaned, dried and sterilised in just 20 minutes (approximately 6 minutes in the Assistina 3x3 and 14 minutes using the fast cycle of the latest Lisa Automatic Sterilizer). Lisa's dedicated Class B cycles and inbuilt traceability options make the W&H reprocessing system a practical and effective method of complying with the latest infection control standards.

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