Dentists warned ‘keep equipment up to date’

Dentists are being warned to keep dental equipment up to date or risk breaking the law.

The General Dental Council (GDC) is recently alerting dental professionals to the risks they run by failing to follow law and regulations which apply to their work, premises, equipment and business*.

The reminder is a result of disciplinary hearings involving complaints about failure to maintain equipment properly and failure to retain proper written evidence of maintenance and certification for use.

Dental equipment should be properly and regularly maintained so it performs efficiently, safe and reliably and delivers the desired patient experience.

The correct parts need to be used for repairs to ensure that warranties and certifications remain valid.

BDTA members sign up to a Code of Practice which requires that products offered for sale are supported by adequate stocks and technical information.

In addition, suppliers must satisfy themselves that diagnostic aids, equipment repair facilities and spare parts will be available to support customers for the normal expected life of the product.

This brings the advantages of minimising surgery downtime and disruptions with appointments.

And dentists are being told not to be tempted to carry out their own maintenance.

The BDTA says: ‘As a professional highly skilled with your hands, there may be a temptation for you to try to do your own servicing and maintenance, but there is a legal responsibility for you to use equipment that is fit for purpose and properly maintained.

‘Service engineers are highly trained specialists, with the correct testing equipment and tools – and proper liability insurance. In addition, all members of the team who use equipment must be trained and competent to do so.’

Tony Reed, executive director at the BDTA, adds: ‘We are pleased to see that the GDC is alerting registrants to the need for equipment to be used properly and kept up to date. It is important to use companies who can provide the right level of service to minimise surgery downtime, and who have the backing of manufacturers so they can obtain spare parts.’

The GDC has been alerted to cases where single-use equipment, such as gloves and impression trays, have been re-used and even instances where gloves are not used at all.

The GDC’s Investigating Committee has also received complaints that documentation is not up to date, that X-ray tests and inspections are not taking place and required equipment such as a defibrillator is absent from the practice.

For further information on the BDTA visit www.bdta.org.uk

*Source: GDC Gazette, Summer 2011

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