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Developing an algorithm for procedural setups and efficient turnaround

Jan. 1, 2011
Organizing procedural armamentarium and storing supplies have frustrated practitioners for decades.

Joseph J. Massad, DDS

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Organizing procedural armamentarium and storing supplies have frustrated practitioners for decades. Have you ever been in the middle of a procedure and your assistant did not have something you needed? This has happened to most of us, and it’s a nerve-wracking situation. Not only does it stop your workflow, it frustrates you, causes the dental assistant to feel bad, and may make your patient lose confidence in your dental office.

After 30-plus years in practice, I finally realized after visiting my medical doctor’s surgery center that he had it all together with a simple but very effective approach. He had specific portable carts designated for each procedure stocked with everything possible that might be required.

When the procedure was completed, the nursing staff removed the entire cart and replaced it with another cart for the next procedure. The one that was removed was taken directly to sterilization, where all instruments were checked and sterilized, and all disposable pieces were replaced. I was amazed by the speed and efficiency of this process.

I began to implement this in my office during the next few months, practicing with commercial carts usually used for garage tools. It took a little time to get our algorithm mastered to become as efficient as my physician, but when we did, it virtually eliminated the need for my assistant to leave my side during a procedure.

As seen in the figures below, we simply roll the cart to sterilization, replace all used supplies, and sterilize used instruments and handpieces. Each cart is labeled and, to ensure my staff does not forget, the layout of each drawer is photographed and laminated so that the contents are available for them to review.

This helps verify that nothing is left out when restocking the cart. This has been very helpful for my staff and me, and I hope this tip will be helpful for those dentists experiencing similar frustrating incidents.

See you next month. I hope my pleasure in dentistry will also be yours ... Joe Massad.

Dr. Joseph Massad may be reached by phone at (918) 749-5600 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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