Reusing disposable items: saving money or risking cross-contamination?Mary Govoni, CDA, RDA, RDH, MBA
Published in Dental Economics by Mary Govoni, CDA, RDA, RDH, MBA
Burs and diamonds can be particularly difficult to clean, therefore increasing the risk of cross-infection. Hand-scrubbing of these items may be the most effective means of removing debris; however, it poses a greater risk of spatter exposure or puncture injuries to the team members who are performing this function. And although burs should be heat-sterilized in packages, they are frequently placed in chemical sterilants and stored in large bur blocks in the treatment rooms that are not packaged, and therefore potentially recontaminated prior to use.
Not only does the reuse of single-use items pose a risk of cross-infection, it can decrease efficiency in terms of the time spent in cleaning and disinfecting these difficult-to-clean items and the time necessary for chemical sterilization. Using new disposables each time, such as disposable burs, can actually increase efficiency and possibly comfort for the patient. Since the burs are always sharp and can cut tooth surfaces more quickly than reusable burs, a procedure can be completed in a shorter time.