Vacuum sterilisers not mandatory in dental decontamination

Dentists in Scotland will not be required to use vacuum sterilisers as there is a lack of evidence on increased patient safety, the Scottish Health Technologies Group (SHTG) announced in a recent statement.

The decision was taken following a request by the Chief Dental Officer (Scotland), Dr Margie Taylor, Chair of the Scottish Dental Decontamination Group, to consider the issue. An assessment of the current literature by SHTG determined that a mandatory change to vacuum sterilisers would not increase patient safety thus the extra cost was not justified.

The statement by SHTG means that non-vacuum phase autoclaves can continue to be used in primary care settings.

Dr Robert Kinloch, Chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said:

"The BDA applauds this commonsense decision, which has been taken on the basis of available evidence. Patient safety is dentists’ paramount concern. Where there is no evidence that a change would improve patient safety, as has been determined is the case here, it would clearly be wrong to require NHS resources to be spent altering existing working practices. We have explained our support for the principle that regulation should be proportionate and are pleased to see that it has been understood and applied in the making of this decision."