It's just a little squeak

One of my handpieces did not work on Monday morning. Of course, it's always Monday morning when they don't work. I called Patterson to see what they would suggest, and after describing the situation, it was assessed we needed a whisper valve. We scheduled a service call for later in the week and proceeded with our Monday.

In addition to the faulty functioning handpiece, our patient chair had started to make noise when placed in the Trendelenberg position. It also made noise when it returned to upright. A little embarrassing, but not overwhelmingly upsetting. The chair did not discriminate between size or shape of patient; rather, it made noise equally and without prejudice. So in addition to having our handpiece restored, it was time for our office to have a preventive maintenance checkup.

One of the benefits of having a slow period is the ability to assess the office infrastructure and do some maintenance. There are always a few things around the office that can be "looked at." Nothing that is out of control or that affects the excellent patient care delivery. Just as our cars need an occasional oil change, so does our dental equipment.

We began a program of yearly equipment maintenance evaluation after our x-ray processor needed a checkup. It helps to know the status of our many mechanical items in the office to see if we will need to make a capital purchase. Between the compressor, the evacuation system, and the dental unit, there are so many little things that can go awry without our knowing.

Another great reason for having a service representative out to the office is to reinforce proper daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance to team members. On occasion, we hire new assistants. While we usually rely on written protocols that speak to the job description, sometimes it is a word of mouth transference of these important daily, weekly, and monthly details. The accuracy may not be as correct as we would hope.

Imagine the game of telephone: I tell you something, you tell the next person, they tell the next person, and so on. By the time the last person hears the direction, it most likely is not the same as the original description. This is not how we would like to see our offices maintained. By having a routine inspection of our equipment, we ask the service provider to review the maintenance of all equipment, including handpieces.

So later that week, our fantastic service technician visited our office, fixed the valve on the handpiece, and cured the chair of the offending squeak. In addition, he took a few moments to check and evaluate the status of our other equipment. As with all things mechanical, we needed some oil here and an adjustment there. But we also got an informative training session on the care and maintenance of all the equipment in the office. It was an hour well spent.

Had we not needed that whisper valve, we would have called for a technical review of the office anyway. Along with taking yearly photographs of the contents of the office in case of an unexpected disaster, preventive office maintenance is a good insurance policy to ensure that the office will open on time and be ready for business the following Monday.

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