Bloodborne Pathogens Policy

Bloodborne Pathogens Policy

The Del Mar College Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene Programs are committed to addressing issues related to bloodborne pathogens, such as Human Immunodeficiency (HIV), Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) in order to protect patients, students, faculty and staff, as well as protect the rights of individuals who may have a bloodborne infectious disease. Students are required to treat all patients assigned and as a result, the potential exists for transmission of bloodborne and other infectious diseases during patient care services. The purpose of the program’s Bloodborne Pathogen Policy (BPP) is to minimize the risk of transmission of bloodborne pathogens, as well as, minimize the risk to other environmental hazards. Policies will be reviewed annually and changes recommended as appropriate.

The Del Mar College Dental Hygiene Clinic, Dental Assisting Radiology Clinic and Practicum office sites are a safe place to provide and receive dental care. Current and generally accepted epidemiological information supports the conclusion that there is no significant risk of contracting bloodborne diseases through the provision of dental treatment when appropriate infection control procedures are followed.

A key element of infection control is the concept of standard precautions, introduced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a means to reduce the risk of bloodborne pathogen transmission (e.g., the Human Immunodeficiency Virus [HIV], Hepatitis B Virus [HBV] and others) in healthcare settings. The primary principle behind standard precautions centers on the premise that medical history and examination cannot reliably identify all patients infected with bloodborne pathogens. All patients, therefore, must be regarded as potentially infectious. As such, applying standard precautions requires that infection control procedures (e.g., HBV vaccination, routine handwashing, use of protective barriers and care in the use and disposal of needles and other sharp instruments) are used for every patient.


The Del Mar College Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene programs will not discriminate against employees, students, applicants for admission or patients based solely on health status. Applicants who test positive for infectious disease or who are carriers of an infectious disease should seek counsel from their physician and the program director prior to application.


The risk for exposure to Hepatitis B is higher for Dental Health Care Providers (DHCP) than the general population. The dental programs require for students to complete the vaccination process for Hepatitis B prior to direct patient contact. A comprehensive medical history, physical examination, eye exam, dental exam, negative Tuberculin (Mantoux) skin test (negative chest x-ray if positive) and additional immunizations, as stated in the Del Mar College Catalog, are also required.

HIV Testing

Testing of DHCP and students for HIV is not required by the Department of Dental and Imaging Technology. However, health care workers and students who perform exposure-prone procedures on patients are encouraged to be tested voluntarily in order to know their HIV status.

Obligation to report

A student will be allowed to continue his/her education as long as their medical condition permits patient care and other individual's health are not jeopardized or at risk. In the event that an individual poses a risk to others, the Director of Dental Programs will assist the individual in obtaining counseling and advisement regarding their health and education.


All information regarding the health status of an individual is confidential and protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1994 and the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Standard Precautions

Standard precautions involve the use of protective barriers such as gloves, gowns, masks, and protective eyewear, which can reduce the risk of exposure of the DHCP’s skin or mucous membranes to potentially infectious materials. Personal protective equipment for faculty and students is removed before leaving the clinic and disposed of properly by the institution. In addition, it is recommended that all faculty and students take precautions to prevent injuries caused by needles, scalpels, and other sharp instruments or devices. In the event of injury, the Exposure Incident Policy can be found in the Del Mar College Dental Assisting Student Handbook and Dental Hygiene Program Clinical Manual. Copies of the policy and plan are located in HS1.132 and in the Dental Hygiene Clinic. Both the Exposure Control Policy and Plan are enforced.

Bloodborne Pathogens & Infection Control Training

The dental assisting and dental hygiene programs comply with all local, state and federal infection control policies including the application of Standard Precautions as stipulated by current CDC Guidelines. Written policies and instruction on infection control protocol to minimize the risk of disease transmission is provided in courses throughout the curriculum. Compliance of safety practices is evaluated throughout the students' clinical experience to ensure a safe educational and work environment. Infection control procedures are outlined in the Dental Hygiene Clinic Manual, Dental Assisting Student Handbook and are reviewed annually.

Enforcement of Practice Limitations or Modifications

Any student or DHCP who engages in unsafe and/or careless clinical practices, which create risks to the health of patients, employees, or students shall be subject to disciplinary action. When such actions are brought to the attention of the Program Director, the students or DHCP may be suspended immediately from all patient care activities pending a full investigation of the matter.

Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens

DHCP or students who are exposed to a bloodborne pathogen in the course of their clinical care are expected to follow the procedures set forth in the ECP located in the Dental Hygiene Clinic Manual and program director's office. If a student should be exposed to a patient's body fluids in a manner that may transmit a bloodborne or infectious disease, the student should consult their health care provider if testing and treatment become necessary.

Environmental Hazards

Environmental hazards of dental hygiene practice include: disorders associated with repetitive activities, exposure to high decibel sounds, exposure to hazardous chemicals or substances, accidental injury, exposure to radiation and allergic reactions to latex or other chemical agents.


Patients infected with bloodborne pathogens can be safely treated in the dental hygiene clinic. Current epidemiological evidence indicates that there is no significant risk of contracting bloodborne diseases through the provision of dental treatment when Standard Precautions are routinely followed. Therefore, all patients, regardless of HIV, HBV, or HCV status will be provided dental hygiene services in the Del Mar College Dental Hygiene Clinic upon receiving a medical consultation stating "healthy" or "maintained health" for treatment from their primary care physician. Standard precautions for all patients will be followed.

Communication of Bloodborne Pathogen Policy to Dental assisting radiology and dental Hygiene Clinic Patients

The Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene Program’s Bloodborne Pathogens Policy is available upon request during the patient’s initial appointment. Patients are asked to read and sign the “Application for Treatment and Statement of Release” for dental hygiene clinic or dental assisting radiology clinic participation.


All information regarding the health status of an individual is confidential and is considered protected health information used only for treatment. A privacy notice explaining the use of health information is provided to patients at the initial appointment. The Del Mar College Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene Programs are HIPAA compliant.

Page last updated August 3, 2020.

Contact Information

Dental and Imaging Technology
101 Baldwin Blvd.
Corpus Christi, TX 78404
(361) 698-2858