Introduction

The primary obligation and ultimate responsibility of healthcare personnel (HCP) is the timely delivery of quality care, within the bounds of the clinical circumstances presented by patients. The provision of quality care depends on proper diagnosis and treatment planning; and the implementation of preventive, therapeutic, or palliative and supportive strategies in the privacy of a comfortable and safe healthcare setting.

The term “healthcare personnel” applies to all paid and unpaid persons who work in a healthcare facility, i.e., any person who has professional or technical training in a healthcare-related field and provides patient care in a healthcare setting or any person who provides services that support the delivery of healthcare.1 One of the elements of a “safe healthcare setting” is the implementation of strategies that minimize or prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

The term HAI refers to an infection acquired during the delivery of healthcare in any setting, e.g., hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory settings (e.g., dental offices), and home care.1 It is a broad term that reflects the uncertainty of where a pathogen might have been acquired, especially since patients frequently move among various settings within the healthcare system. The term nosocomial infection is reserved for an infection acquired in a hospital setting.

While there are few data on the risk of transmission of pathogenic microorganisms in oral healthcare settings, HAIs do present a potential hazard to oral HCP and patients alike. To prevent or minimize HAIs among oral HCP and patients, oral healthcare facilities, like all healthcare facilities, are mandated to develop a written infection prevention protocol predicated on a hierarchy of preventive strategies specific for oral healthcare settings.2,3