September 23, 2009
Preparing for an H1N1 outbreak
Here are some things you can do to prepare your practice in case of an influenza outbreak:
- Post educational posters or signs reminding patients and staff that face-to-face contact should be minimized, including a ban on handshaking as a greeting.
- Educate staff about H1N1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a section devoted to H1N1 in the dental setting at www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/infectioncontrol/index.htm or visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/investigation.htm.
- More liberal policies should be considered during the emergency concerning sick leave and personal time for staff who are ill or are caring for sick family members. Procedures for allowing staff who have been ill to return to work should be established to minimize the risk for spreading the disease.
- Encourage staff to receive H1N1 vaccine as soon as it becomes available and also to receive the seasonal vaccine. In some cases, local dental societies should work with local health departments to make sure dentists, their families and allied personnel are included on the locally-determined priority list of individuals who will receive the H1N1 vaccine specific to the virus causing the pandemic.
- Make sure your office has an adequate supply of N-95 masks and hand sanitizers. Advise patients who are sick to reschedule appointments.