In 2013 the Oklahoma State Department of Health was notified of a potential hepatitis outbreak associated with poor infection prevention practices in a dental office in Tulsa. This spurred testing of more than 4,000 patients who could have been exposed to hepatitis and HIV. When the investigation concluded, it marked the first documented spread of hepatitis from patient to patient in an oral healthcare setting.

No dental-related outbreaks of that magnitude have ever been reported in Arizona; however, news of this outbreak, and other similar exposures around the country, led our Healthcare Associated Infections Program to consider providing specific infection prevention training for dental settings.

It takes coordination between public health, community members, and healthcare partners to protect and improve health, and healthcare associated infection prevention is no different. Over the last several years, we have partnered with numerous groups to offer infection prevention trainings and resources to a number of healthcare settings including hospitals, long-term care, and dialysis.

Last Friday we partnered with local health departments, Midwestern University, the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and others to host the 2015 Dental Infection Prevention Collaborative. This free event educated more than 100 dental providers and staff on the key concepts and basic principles of infection prevention and delivered tools and evidence based interventions to reduce infection risk within dental facilities.

We received excellent feedback and hope to turn this event into an annual collaborative. Presentations from the event are posted on our website, and we’ve formed a communication group to continue providing evidence-based information to our dental partners around the state.