There seems to be some confusion with regards to personal protective garments worn within the dental office. Who is to wear them, at what times and how are they to be laundered?
This is a bit of a grey area. This law is written obscurely. A lab coat is part of your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE is part of your Blood Borne Pathogens Plan. It is also part of Universal Precautions which dictates that “we treat all patients as if infectious”. So, Best Practice is to make lab coats available to all employees.
Yes, all employees, even receptionists. While the law on lab coats can be interpretive or “grey”, it is best to make this armamentarium available to all employees. While clinical employees also need to be supplied with safety glasses, masks and gloves, receptionists, at a minimum, should be supplied with a lab coat.
Lab coats should either be laundered “on-sight” or sent out for dry cleaning (save the receipts as proof-of-laundering). You may also choose to keep disposable lab coats on hand. This is a quick and convenient way to ensure that all employees have their garb. Don’t send your employees home as walking biohazards.
Lab coats for everyone. That’s haute!
Written by Jill Obrochta and Heather Whitt of Dental Enhancements.