Dr. Ginger Bratzel speaks on the recent events in Tulsa and raises awareness for infection control and how to better protect patients and ease their fears.
In light of recent events in Tulsa involving the oral surgeon exposing thousands of patients to HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, I felt it necessary to address this situation and the impact it may have to your practice and dentistry as a whole. We probably won’t know how extensive the situation was for years, but the impact to every dental patient in the country is real because now they are questioning their care.
We probably won’t know how the extensive the situation was for years, but the impact to every dental patient in the country is real because now they are questioning the safety of their care.
We all know in the industry that this was a rare event, but that does little to calm patients’ concerns, especially if they were already fearful of the dentist. Patient safety and how we, as the dental industry, handle infection control is now in the forefront of people’s minds.
Watch the video below for the full details and what your role is in this situation.
I’ve always been open about the fact that the role of a marketing message is something you do FOR someone. A marketing message is expressing what is already in the patient’s mind and how to resolve it. Right now, people need to know what we are doing FOR them within dentistry to make sure they receive safe, effective care. While this is always the focus of your care, it is now the focus of your marketing message-infection control.
Patients don’t understand phrases and terms like “infection control” but they do understand words like “safety”, so that is how this needs to be addressed- in their words. Any marketing you have needs to include words to reassure them “We uphold the strictest sterilization steps for your safety- we will never compromise that”. They don’t know what “autoclave” is but they do know what “clean” and “sterilized” are.
I would recommend being proactive and actively start marketing on patient safety in calming, patient friendly words. The ADA is being very proactive on providing information on the topic; you need to use that and specifically market and advertise on this topic of infection control just like you would market cosmetic dentistry or implants.
Your mission is to resolve all the questions and objections in patients’ and prospective patients’ minds BEFORE they ask them. And make infection control a MAJOR part of your patient experience. Show them the sterilization area, packaging, spore testing, hand washing, gloves, etc.
Patient tours to existing and new patients need to be at the forefront. Just as a restaurant makes the kitchen open so you can see how the staff is preparing your meal and the cleanliness of the food preparation area, you need to make your sterilization a prominent part of your office. By being so forth coming, it shows you have nothing to hide.
Make sure they see signs of sterilization everywhere:
Sealed packages on the tray,
The certification from the spore-testing laboratory prominently framed and displayed in the public areas of your practice just like it was your dental diploma.
Make sure every team member that has any contact with patients can answer all their questions comfortably and well. There should be no hesitation in their voice and every office needs to take time to master or re-master this skill.
Here’s some verbal scripting to help you with this:
“I’m glad you asked me about this because I want to assure you that in my dental practice, we follow stringent infection control procedures.”
“As your doctor, I would only delegate procedures to my staff that they are licensed or qualified to perform per state regulations. I care about my patients and your health and safety are my foremost priorities.”
“Studies show that following proper infection control procedures greatly reduces risk to patients to the point of an extremely remote possibility.”
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed special recommendations for use in dental offices and we follow them.”
“I am a patient of this office, too, just like my friends and family. And I want to make sure you are treated in same safe manner with the highest quality of care as I want for them.”
A few of the things to do in terms of infection control:
All dental staff involved in patient care scrub their hands before each and every patient and use appropriate protective garb such as gloves, masks, gowns and eyewear.
A new set of gloves and masks are used for each patient.
Before you enter the examine room, all surfaces, such as the dental chair, instrument tray, dental light, drawer handles and countertops, have been cleaned and decontaminated.
This is the time to be proactive. A wake up call for some, but an opportunity to serve our patients better and make a safer environment FOR EVERYONE. I invite you to contact me at Results@GingerBratzel.com.