Observed infection control compliance in a dental school: A natural experiment

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The objective of this study was to determine student adherence to infection control policies at 1 dental school. A secondary objective was to determine the influence of Ebola virus disease (EVD)-related training on student infection control behaviors.


An instrument to assess and record infection control behaviors was developed to reflect Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as well as current teaching. Third- and fourth-year dental students were observed during patient-care appointments and behaviors were recorded and analyzed. Behaviors observed before the EVD outbreak and subsequent mandatory in-service training were compared with behaviors observed after completion of the training.


Use of personal protective equipment was nearly universal. Overall compliance with infection control parameters was 88%. However, only a minority of students demonstrated no breaches of protocol. Most violations involved improper mask use and improper glove use during the intraoperative phase of an appointment and failure to wash hands after removing gloves. There were no significant overall differences in observed behavior pre- and post-EVD training.


Overall compliance with recommendations was high but some areas showed room for improvement. Future training in infection control should focus on these areas. Training related to EVD had no influence on student behavior.

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