Just as HTM 01-05 underpins decontamination within the dental environment, HTM 01-01 provides best practice guidance on the entire medical
decontamination cycle, including reusable surgical instruments and medical devices used in acute care.
Although HTM 01-01 does not strictly apply to dentistry, new guidance within it regarding protein detection methods used on surgical instruments will undoubtedly work their way into the dentistry sphere, via an updated version of HTM 01-05, within the next few years.
Protein residue testing in dentistry is a routine part of the dental decontamination process. It’s also well known that if protein residues found on used dental instruments are allowed to dry onto the instrument surface for any length of time, this can severely hamper its removal and thereby compromise the effectiveness of subsequent sterilisation processes.
It takes less than 60 minutes in a warm practice environment for protein to start to harden and coagulate, making it impossible to totally remove. Therefore, keeping dental instruments moist following use and before cleaning greatly improves the effectiveness of the cleaning process. If instruments are simply pre-treated within 30 minutes of being used and kept moist by using a non-hazardous, water-based formulation, this would have a measurable effect on the residual protein detected without the need to change anything else in the reprocessing procedure.
There is nothing to stop the dental profession getting ahead of the game by using instrument wetting agents and suspension foams throughout the working day, not only when instruments are unable to be cleaned immediately after use. This move towards best practice means that once a protein measurement requirement is introduced, which it inevitably will, practices will be better placed to integrate such changes, remain compliant and achieve the desired results.
Full details of the recent updates to HTM 01-01 and its likely impact on instrument reprocessing in dental practices is available in the February 2017 issue of The Dentist magazine.